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Poetry. LGBT Studies. Martenson's poems are narratives of thinking. They are landscapes in which abstract concepts have the presence and force of physical objects--you may hit your head on them. The focus is on dissonance, whether between perception and received ideas, between feelings and convention, between lesbian identity and social prejudice, or between the desire to make the world orderly, intelligible, and finding the systems for doing so wanting and ambiguity everywhere. The diverse forms push against words in single file, against the ways syntax projects coherence and smoothes over disjunctions.
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Jennifer Martenson was born in Seattle, spent a number of years in Chicago and now lives in Providence, Rhode Island. She works in libraries and is both a musician and a poet. Burning Deck has published XQ281 as a chapbook in 2001. UNSOUND (Burning Deck, 2010) is her first full book.From Publishers Weekly:
Concise, extraordinarily thoughtful, often challenging, and sometimes sexy, Martenson's debut could find admirers far beyond the East Coast avant-garde that seems its natural home. She's certainly a thinker, and her strongest sentences ask how thoughts—her own, but also society's stereotypes—at once create and interfere with apparently natural, visceral pleasure and pain: even the unraveled edge of the immediate may not survive the way formality/ relieves one of the strenuous/ details of self. Honesty and desire (especially lesbian desire) are hard to consider apart from received ideas, but impossible to portray accurately within them: often abstract, sometimes typographically odd, the couplets and prose poems strain against the dilemma they portray, while never failing (once you look hard) to make sense. Was I/ holding your hand or merely an opinion? she asks, and alert readers will answer both. Some of her best effects build through several pages, slowly, as her philosophical language sinks in; there are easy-to-reprint short pieces, too—Intimate Conversations begins as the poet skips stones across a pond, and ends The contours too complex, the structure/ tenuous, like inner feelings,/ or the sway of tones enveloping a mood. (Feb.)
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