How do we live together in a world debased by injustice and violence? Robert Martens’ city of beasts suggests that embracing transience, acceptance, and yes, love, can light a flame in the empire’s heart of darkness.
Robert Martens is a polished director of words, emotions and moods, and eloquently weaves a mind-film for the reader to visualize. His poetry has the ability to make one cry “in a world too dry for tears.” Martens is at home with free verse and rhyme and is adept at slant rhyme, as evidenced in “childhood’s end.” We see shades of a genius mind shine through in “why did the chicken cross the road?” Also of note are “annihilation of the buffalo,” peppered with clever parody and comparison of man and animal; and “an elephant never forgets,” where Martens brilliantly separates thought from narrative. There are so many great poems gracing the pages in city of beasts. A terrific offering.
~ Candice James, Poet Laureate Emerita, New Westminster, BC
Raw and healing all in one breath, Martens invites readers into the realm of voice in all creatures, an honest search for humility, forgiveness and reconciliation with the natural world. “opening prayer” captures the tone of this unique collection, the compassion Martens brings to all beings. An entire world comes to life in his poetic mastery, invoking harmony in diversity, a reminder of all the species we share the Earth with. Allegorical, straight-out truthful, brilliantly profound in “the rush to find what never has been lost,” Martens’ divinely crafted collection highlights the elemental respectfulness of listening, breaking issues into the light, integration into awareness. The book is beautifully divided into thematic sections, gently evoking philosophical yearnings about the nature and path of humanity, acknowledging both the sacred and unspeakable in the ordinary, hearing and renewing them in everyday light.
~ Cynthia Sharp, Poet, Director, Federation of BC Writers, Writer in Residence,
City of Richmond
Robert Martens was raised in Yarrow, a village built by Russian Mennonite refugees in an effort to replicate how they had lived in the old country. Farming was king, and beasts abounded in barn and pasture. Robert learned the hard urban ways of the wider world while attending university and joining the long-hair student rebellion that helped stop a war. He eventually settled in Abbotsford, BC, where he writes, edits, and grieves for the degradation of our planet.
Robert Martens respects that he is living on the unceded land of the Stó:lō Nation.