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February 15, 2018
9781421425368
9781421425351
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9781421425351
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Future Perfect

To be modern is to live not in a single era, but in a churn of new technologies, deep history, myth, literary traditions, and contemporary cultural memes. In Future Perfect, Charles Martin’s darkly comic new collection, the poet explores our time and the times that come before and after, which we inhabit and cultivate in memory and imagination. Through poems that play with form and challenge expectation, Martin examines the continuities that persist from time immemorial to the future perfect.

Sensitive to the traces left behind by the lives of his characters, Martin follows their tracks, reflections, echoes, and shadows. In "From Certain Footprints Found at Laetoli," an ancient impression preserved in volcanic ash conjures up a family scene three million years past. In "The Last Resort of Mr. Kees" and "Mr. Kees Goes to a Party," Martin adopts the persona of the vanished poet Weldon Kees to reimagine his disappearance. "Letter from Komarovo, 1962" retells the tense real-life meeting between Anna Akhmatova and Robert Frost a year before their nations almost destroyed one another. And in the titular sonnet sequence that ends the book, Martin conjures a childhood in the Bronx under the shadow of the mushroom cloud of nuclear war as the perfected future supplanting the present.

Introducing Buck Rogers to Randall Jarrell and combining new translations or reinterpretations of works by Ovid, G. G. Belli, Octavio Paz, and Euripides, Future Perfect further establishes Charles Martin as a master of invention.

About the Author

Charles Martin is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Signs & Wonders. His verse translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses received the 2004 Harold Morton Landon Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Endorsements

"The ambitious span of Future Perfect arcs from prehistory to the atomic age, with stops in Corinth, Rome, Parkchester, and elsewhere. In poem after poem eloquently parsing our species' rich and fearful heritage, Charles Martin's urbanity both brightens and heightens the gloom of his searchingly ironic vision. Future Perfect is a wise and multilayered book to savor, ponder, and return to."

- Rachel Hadas

"Charles Martin’s poetry is the best of company, witty and wise and engaging, all the while reminding us that we are only human and have been for millennia. The poems of Future Perfect will, I believe, see us through whatever the future holds."

- Mark Jarman

"Charles Martin is one of America’s best poets and translators, comparable to Auden in his humanity, intellectual vitality, and formal range. Future Perfect launches from the lives of others and from the poet’s own autobiography. It soars and brings us trenchantly down to earth. A performance of perfection."

- David Mason

"For readers still enamored of the craft as well as the art of poetry, there is no better exemplar of either from my own generation than Charles Martin, whose previous collection, Signs and Wonders, placed his formal abilities on impressive display. His new book, Future Perfect, is even more stunning, with brilliantly executed poems in a wide range of forms, including especially the title sonnet sequence and five marvelous poems on the legendary Weldon Kees. American poetry has produced several unusually strong books over the past few years, but none stronger than Future Perfect."

- B. H. Fairchild
Johns Hopkins University Press
Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction
From 13 To 17

9781421425351 : future-perfect-martin
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Signs & Wonders

poems by Charles Martin
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The Poems of Catullus

translated by Charles Martin
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Ballyhoo

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Catch, Release

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