Hugh Martin; Photo courtesy of Akron Beacon Journal Hugh Martin recently sat down with the Akron Beacon Journal at his family's home in Macedonia, Ohio, to discuss what led him to turn his Iraq War experiences into his new book The Stick Soldiers. According to the piece, "Martin had never written a poem when he was deployed to Iraq nearly a decade ago." Instead, while taking a poetry class at Muskingum University after serving in Iraq, he discovered his poetic voice through encouraging professor, Jane Varley. "'He had a poet’s sensibility, and it was simple to get him started,' Varley said. 'All I had to do was give him the names of some books and poets. From there, he discovered the world of poetry.'" For Martin, poetry has proved an invaluable, therapeutic means to share his war experiences: "Poetry, in terms of writing about war, Martin said, 'is sort of superior than all forms of written communications. To write a good poem, it has to be very precise. You have to use an economy of language. ... You have to look at the humanity of everyone — American, Iraqi, civilians.'” "Eavan Boland, director of the Creative Writing Program at Stanford, said Martin’s work 'came off the page so strong, so authentic, so deeply involved in an important public event.'" Muskingham's Varley attributes Martin's success as a poet to his "'working with the compelling and complicated landscape of war, but beyond that, his poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations.'" "'If I had to pinpoint one quality that characterizes him as a poet, I’d say it’s compassion,'" she says. "'Art is an endeavor to try to make sense of chaos ... and in the case of Hugh Martin, to make poetry is not a reaction to war but a present-tense, proactive, ongoing effort to find what is beneath the surface of our lives.'” Check out the full article to read more about Martin's back-story, what he is up to today, and his parents' take on their son's work. The Stick Soldiers is available at the BOA Bookstore.
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