cover image Discipline


Dawn Lundy Martin. Nightboat Books (UPNE, dist.), $15.96 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9844598-4-1

Tackling one of the most disarming aspects of the human condition in the 21st century%E2%80%94what Fanny Howe, in her foreword, rightly identifies as "the repulsiveness of other people"%E2%80%94Lundy Martin explores the complexity of our contemporary repulsion in prose poems whose syntax is no less complex. "The I is/ more relaxed/ when it is hunted," she writes, visually equating the poetic "I" with the number 1 in order to set it in conflict with the number 0 in blocks of binary code that interrupt the poetic sequence. Repulsion is everywhere for Lundy Martin, who navigates between race, poverty, womanhood, family, and love without shying away from the cruelty with which we treat each other and ourselves. Shifting from "a black boy... with truly apelike features" who "embarrasses us all," she arrives at a war metaphor that is all the more destabilizing for what precedes it: "Peace is like a shotgun aimed at the foot. If the toe is missing it's better than the whole head." At times one feels that Lundy Martin refuses to see human compassion where it exists, but a collection this honest with human failing is always necessary in reminding us of the work that is required of us. (June)