cover image Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life

Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life

Dawn Lundy Martin. Nightboat (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-937658-28-1

“Life in a box is a pretty life, arrangements and things... Almost everything we’ve ever desired is diminished when enclosed,” writes Martin (Discipline) in the title poem of her third full-length collection. The “boxes” she explores are the various tools used to understand and communicate human experience, particularly language, recorded history, and identifying markers such as race and gender. “We are method. We are order. What would you do without us?” Martin demands in the voice of such boxes. Her poetry counters their rigid and totalizing nature through striking and original use of collage-like, disorienting prose, which does not always cohere around a central narrative or continuous “I” figure. As she ponders “How to inhabit the sensation of living,” Martin foregrounds points of rift and friction—especially when speaking pointedly of and from a black, female, and queer experience—as a way to destabilize limiting narratives that often circumscribe these subjects. “What are the dimensions of the field? They’ve put me here in the tallest grasses and the strangest fruit and have demanded at gunpoint that I bend into it over and over.” Martin speaks directly to such violent subjugation while pressing her language to a slippery, unruly, and vibrant place of resistance. [em](Dec.) [/em]