Bad Alchemy: Poems

Overview

"Dionisio Martínez is one of the most exciting new voices in American poetry. His poems are mysterious and intellectually provocative. . . . They are the poems of a survivor."—Stephen Dunn
In this exuberant and distinctive collection, Dionisio Martínez addresses topics as diverse as love, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, twentieth-century art and music, and the relevance of language in an age of image.
Much of Martínez's private iconography comes from the picket-fence ...

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1996 Paperback NEW and Unread but some copies may have slight wear and /or a publisher's remainder mark! New and unread but may have some small amount of shelf wear possible ... including remainder marks. All orders ship quickly from our centrally-located warehouse! Read more Show Less

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Overview

"Dionisio Martínez is one of the most exciting new voices in American poetry. His poems are mysterious and intellectually provocative. . . . They are the poems of a survivor."—Stephen Dunn
In this exuberant and distinctive collection, Dionisio Martínez addresses topics as diverse as love, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, twentieth-century art and music, and the relevance of language in an age of image.
Much of Martínez's private iconography comes from the picket-fence California community of his youth, in which large events—from the veneration of pop icons (Jean Harlow, Ed Sullivan) to the Vietnam War—seemed to move in slow motion. As an adult, the poet tries to make sense of what the child could not grasp.

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Editorial Reviews

William Scammell - The Independent (UK)
“The voice is contemporary, level-headed, confiding, but it quite often deals in marvels and apocalypse . . . with that sort of verve diligent souls seem able to spark off from the infinite resources of language. . . . The best new American poet I've read in some time.”
Judith Kitchen - Georgia Review
“Americans do not have the refracting lens through which to see themselves, but Martínez has uncovered their basic optimism, their heartfelt skepticism. He is blessed, and cursed, with senses of both intimacy and distance. The movement of his poetry is almost compulsive, worrying at the edge of association as it strives for explanation, melding concepts that might otherwise remain discrete. This is not surrealism, but a third landscape, an emotional territory carved out of the imagination.”
William Ferguson - New York Times Book Review
“Mr. Martínez has made the necessary accommodations with political reality, yet, for him, the dreadful fact of alienation continues to inform all other truth: 'No matter where I go,' he observes, 'I carry foreign currency.'”
Elizabeth Gunderson - Booklist
“[Bad Alchemy is] pulled together by lines that zoom across the page, phrasing that grabs you almost more quickly than you can read it, and references so sly they're worth a second—and sometimes a third and a fourth—glance. Martínez delicately balances exuberance and poignancy, and many of his prose poems should be cautionarily prefaced, 'Please fasten your seat belt.'”
Peter Meinke - Organica Quarterly
“[Bad Alchemy] sweeps the reader along on a wave of dazzling imagery and verbal magic. . . . This is an original voice, a fusion of American energy and Latin American mysticism, Whitman filtered through Márquez and Paz.”
David Lehman
“Martínez's poems reflect poignantly on the poet's status as a Cuban exile destined to a perennial sense of dislocation.”
The Independent (UK)
The voice is contemporary, level-headed, confiding, but it quite often deals in marvels and apocalypse . . . with that sort of verve diligent souls seem able to spark off from the infinite resources of language. . . . The best new American poet I've read in some time.— William Scammell
Georgia Review
Americans do not have the refracting lens through which to see themselves, but Martínez has uncovered their basic optimism, their heartfelt skepticism. He is blessed, and cursed, with senses of both intimacy and distance. The movement of his poetry is almost compulsive, worrying at the edge of association as it strives for explanation, melding concepts that might otherwise remain discrete. This is not surrealism, but a third landscape, an emotional territory carved out of the imagination.— Judith Kitchen
New York Times Book Review
Mr. Martínez has made the necessary accommodations with political reality, yet, for him, the dreadful fact of alienation continues to inform all other truth: 'No matter where I go,' he observes, 'I carry foreign currency.'— William Ferguson
Booklist
[Bad Alchemy is] pulled together by lines that zoom across the page, phrasing that grabs you almost more quickly than you can read it, and references so sly they're worth a second—and sometimes a third and a fourth—glance. Martínez delicately balances exuberance and poignancy, and many of his prose poems should be cautionarily prefaced, 'Please fasten your seat belt.'— Elizabeth Gunderson
Organica Quarterly
[Bad Alchemy] sweeps the reader along on a wave of dazzling imagery and verbal magic. . . . This is an original voice, a fusion of American energy and Latin American mysticism, Whitman filtered through Márquez and Paz.— Peter Meinke
Library Journal
The "bad alchemy" identified in these poems is a malevolent force that turns the world into a surrealistic nightmare. A condemned man sees his dead self on a bus; a healthy man feels his body decompose after lightning strikes him; a woman with breast cancer places her husband's hand on her breast, realizing the connection between "content and shape." In 1965, when Martinez was only nine years old, his family was exiled from Cuba, moving first to Spain and then to California. "No matter where I go," laments the poet, "I carry foreign currency." In this displaced world, Martinez mourns the loss of his father and the hard life of his mother, finding solace in a variety of artists, including Erik Satie, Frank O'Hara, and Marcel Duchamps, among others. Always inventive, Martinez is the master of the memorable line: "In a history of closed doors, an open/window means everything." Recommended for all larger collections.-Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, Ill.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393315318
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/17/1996
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Dionisio D. Martínez is the author of Bad Alchemy and a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship. He lives in Tampa, Florida.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11
Altruism 15
In a Duplex Near the San Andreas Fault 19
Fuego 20
Syllogism 22
Bad Alchemy 23
Hysteria 26
Frank Lloyd Wright: "The land 28
Incomplete Combustion 29
Kinescope 34
Need 35
Simplicity 36
Burden 40
Temporary Losses 42
Ed Sullivan and the Decline of the Variety Show 44
Preludes 49
Gymnopedies 51
Gnossiennes 53
Je te veux 55
Valse-ballet 56
Fantaisie-valse 57
Sarabandes 58
Avant-dernieres pensees 60
Nocturnes 63
Flood 67
Sometimes the Obvious Is a Blessing 74
Reenactments 76
Treason 78
Tableau 79
Moto Perpetuo 81
Matisse: Blue Nude, 1952 82
Looking for Frank O'Hara on Fire Island 83
Marcel Duchamp Descending a Staircase 84
Gustav Klimt: The Kiss 88
The Cultivation of Orchids 90
Middle Men 92
What the Men Talk About When the Women Leave the Room 95
Belated Valentine for Alina 97
The Vernacular of the Eyes 103
Notes & Dedications 109
About the Author 111
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