Hustle

Hustle

by David Tomas Martinez
     
 

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"David Martinez is like an algebra problem invented by America—he's polynomial, and fractioned, full of identity variables and unsolved narrative coefficients. . . . Hustle is full of dashing nerve, linguistic flair, and unfakeable heart."—Tony Hoagland

The dark peoples with things:

for keys, coins, pencils and pens our pockets

Overview

"David Martinez is like an algebra problem invented by America—he's polynomial, and fractioned, full of identity variables and unsolved narrative coefficients. . . . Hustle is full of dashing nerve, linguistic flair, and unfakeable heart."—Tony Hoagland

The dark peoples with things:

for keys, coins, pencils and pens our pockets grieve.

No street lights or signs,
no liquor stores or bars,
only a lighter for a flashlight,

and the same-faced trees,
similar-armed stones and crooked bushes staring back at me.

There is no path in the woods for a boy from the city.

I would have set fire to get off this wilderness but Palomar is no El Camino in an empty lot,

the plastic dripping from the dash and the paint bubbling like a toad's throat.

If mountains were old pieces of furniture,
I would have lit the fabric and danced.

If mountains were abandoned crack houses,
I would have opened their meanings with flame,

if that would have let the wind and trees lead my eyes or shown me the moon's tiptoe on the moss—

as you effect my hand,
as we walk into the side of a Sunday night.

David Tomas Martinez has published in San Diego Writer's Ink, Charlotte Journal, Poetry International, and has been featured in Border Voices. A PhD candidate at the University of Houston, Martinez is also an editor for Gulf Coast.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/24/2014
“Memory is a fist to the eye” in Martinez’s debut collection, which depicts a family where “violence is the oldest inheritance,” and a coming-of-age in which the speaker “died/ into silent manhood/…spoke in the twist/ of fingers to gang signs.” From an alcoholic grandfather and a father for whom “life was work. For him, everything was hard,” the speaker remembers himself as a boy who “dreamed of sleeping/ perfectly still—/ a macho’s rest;/ muggers, murderers, and fathers,” and a teenager who “wanted so badly to go to prison/ wanted my stripes and the respect of teens.” Questions of masculinity and power run throughout, and the poems feel simultaneously intimate and spectacular as the voice strikes registers of vulnerability and bravado. For all the narratives of strife the collection contains, Martinez’s poetics are anything but grim. Rather, there is a delight in language play and a lexicon that spans slang to theory. From the remove of poetry, Martinez brings clarity to the chaotic world of his youth, observing “before an alpha, before the first word or a god/ there was a riot of silence to be banded and named,” and brings urgency to the language, asking, “Where is the window to break/ in your life?” (May)
From the Publisher
“Questions of masculinity and power run throughout, and the poems feel simultaneously intimate and spectacular as the voice strikes registers of vulnerability and bravado. For all the narratives of strife the collection contains, Martinez’s poetics are anything but grim. Rather, there is a delight in language play and a lexicon that spans slang to theory.”
Publishers Weekly

“This debut by Martinez reveals a young poet who combines the kinesthetic energy of swift movement with the quick anticipation of one whose continued survival depends largely on his ability to act. . . . This first collection serves youth, and, as with many such books, this reviewer is curious to know what Martinez’s poetry might look like once the summer of 1994 is as stale as the summer of 1969, and awaits with interest the kind of world Martinez writes once school is out for good.”
Library Journal

“In his debut poetry collection, Martinez translates the unique nature of his autobiography with an acute ear for rhythm, transporting readers from barrio alleyways to the shipyards of San Diego to the halls of Houston academia, broaching such topics as young fatherhood, gang life, and stereotypical masculinity with refreshing candor and linguistic savvy. . . . A necessary addition to Chicano, Latino, and American poetry.”
Booklist

"Wild syntax dances between enchanted frogs and border crossing, and between the mystery of life and the mystery of recounting it. "The world brims with signs," Martinez writes, and in his hands the landscape of the past keeps being open to rereading....There are many raw and rich moments in this book.... Perhaps there is no way to make grief into a diamond. But Martinez has made something rare, and living, and glittering nonetheless."
—NPR, "All Things Considered"

“Growing up in a broken home, living in a barrio, and joining a gang did not stop Martinez from transcending the low expectations of his troubled youth. The current Ph.D. candidate nurtured those raw experiences into sophisticated material that informs his startling poems.”
—BuzzFeed, “The 14 Must-Read Works of Chicano Literature”

Library Journal
06/01/2014
If you're hustling in America, you're either moving quickly or doing whatever you must do to survive. This debut by Martinez reveals a young poet who combines the kinesthetic energy of swift movement with the quick anticipation of one whose continued survival depends largely on his ability to act. The book relies heavily on authorial persona, with its poems written irreverently and mostly in the first person. It values what is close at hand, and, much like a hustler, its concerns are local and immediate. As one reads, one becomes aware of the world becoming almost unbearably small: Martinez embarks on a nickel tour of San Diego in the summer of 1994 and introduces us to friends with memorable nicknames, all while exhibiting a confidence that is as essential to survival as the ability to think quickly. VERDICT This first collection serves youth, and, as with many such books, this reviewer is curious to know what Martinez's poetry might look like once the summer of 1994 is as stale as the summer of 1969, and awaits with interest the kind of world Martinez writes once school is out for good.—Chris Pusateri, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, CO

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781936747771
Publisher:
Sarabande Books
Publication date:
05/13/2014
Pages:
84
Sales rank:
614,822
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

David Tomas Martinez: David Tomas Martinez has published in San Diego Writer's Ink, Charlotte Journal, Poetry International, and been featured in Border Voices. A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Houston, Martinez is also an editor for Gulf Coast.

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