Tag Archives: sonnets

No apocalypse, but a day of winters, a day of springs

I’m all tapped out of apocalyptic poems. Besides, today is not THE END—like any other day, it’s full of infinite endings and beginnings, of infinite winters and springs.

So in lieu of the mother-of-all-end-times-poems, I’m posting a sonnet for winter and a sonnet for spring, the flip sides of every moment of existence. Blessings and peace.

Repeat. Flesh
of snow, pocks
in tarnished snow.
Snow of lust.
Snow of cash.
Blathering omega’s
travesty of dust.
Snow breaking
vows of poverty
but not silence.
Snow of theft.
Sparrows buried
in snow.

Spring’s blind surge awakens rambling epics. Evidence
gushes First things jockey for position. Feet sink
into mud, and revelation looms at the cost of sleep. Even
a car sounds different. The exotic bark of a dog shatters
Orion, spilling sand from a stunned hourglass.
Thereafter, molecules relax and history tries again:
A garlanded mother emerges playing a kithara
as her darlings weave a pedastal, the better to adore
the quixotic colorist: proof that sensory deprivation
binds minions to a redundant diety. Lids can’t filter
catastrophic light. Sap’s flight quickens, guiding
moments trickling toward a slack horizon. And again:
over the years weep scullions at their skinned rabbits.
Peddlers of risk lean into showers of delinquent buds.


Camille Martin

“Glib spice announces the news . . .”: More Pre-Mayan-Apocalypse Fiddling

from Sonnets

Glib spice announces the news bleeding
in the monochromatic distance. The short-term
memory of distance flees in fear. Enemies
fall, money flees. Falling gloom dazzles just
as history taught it to. Not the history of stars
made of tumbleweed nor the annals of a dust mote
singing rich disaster. Masoch was never so rich,
or so it seems to each geological layer. No
notebook records a pocket of posies between thick
layers of ash. It just is, caught in a small pocket
of time. “Time to return to star,” announces
tumbleweed on the news. The news shrinks
to a speck of pollen on a posy’s anther
in a pocket caught between thick layers of ash.

2012 - 2

Sonnets and Looms are available here:

Small Press Distribution
Book City in Toronto
Apollinaire’s Bookshoppe
Shearsman Books
The Book Depository


Camille Martin

Fiddling While Earth Burns: Poems for the End of Time

          I’m obsessed with The End, with the smorgasbord of choices for Armageddon that Neil deGrasse Tyson cheerfully ticks off: asteroid, caldera eruption, mega-tsunami, black hole. Not surprisingly, some of my poems have an apocalyptic theme.
          So in honour of the rapidly-approaching December 21, 2012—of the dreaded cataclysm that Mayan astronomers predicted (unless they just got tired of chiselling)—I’ll be posting poems to while away the countdown to the terrestrial torch. The first poem is below.
          And what would 2012 prophesies be without a little shameless commercialism? I’m selling poetry, not opulent underground condos, but then, to paraphrase William Carlos Williams, survivalists die miserably on doomsday for lack of what is found in poems.
          The clock is ticking, but you can still get a copy of Sonnets and Looms from the following vendors: Small Press Distribution, Book City in Toronto, Amazon.ca, and Shearsman Books.
          Help keep my kitchen, where I’m hunkering down with proper Canadian garrison mentality, stocked with beans and rice during these anti-climactic end times.

from Sonnets:

From a helicopter at night, an aerial
view of a city. In the dark, gigantic
iron statues loom with an ominous
aura of permanence. The people
who live in the city obsess
about the possibility of doomsday
erupting among their soaring
buildings and effigies. Of the end
they’ve made a fetish, chatting
about it at cocktail parties as if
it were the latest vogue. They believe
that it could happen at any moment,
so they no longer bother
to make their beds in the morning.


Camille Martin


C. L. Bledsoe’s mindful review of Sonnets

         There’s a terrific review of Sonnets (Shearsman Books, 2010) by C. L. Bledsoe at Murder Your Darlings. I say “terrific” not only because it’s a positive review (music to any poet’s ears) but also because the reviewer quotes from and discusses several poems in the book. It’s a mindful review, and it’s evident he didn’t just skim the book but read slowly and attentively.
         Bledsoe’s general appraisal of Sonnets:

“Martin’s poems are complex and elegant. She reveals a vital, passionate intellect in these poems that move fast as river water after a spring thaw. I can’t wait to read her next collection.”

Click the image below to read his thought-provoking review:

Sonnets can be ordered on the publisher’s page, which offers links to multiple distributors.

Camille Martin

Shearsman Books to publish Looms

Shearsman Books rocks my world — again! Like my previous collection (Sonnets), Looms will appear from Shearsman, a UK literary press that publishes about sixty new titles per year.

Poets who have published with Shearsman include Mark Scroggins, Maxine Chernoff, Tony Lopez, anne blonstein, Carrie Etter, Joseph Massey, Lisa Samuels, Eileen Tabios, Tom Clark, Anne Gorrick, Michael Heller, and Scott Thurston, to name only a few.

Among Canadian poets, Erin Mouré has published three books of translations of the poetry of Chus Pato for Shearsman.

I’m in fierce company.

Unless predictions of Doomsday 2012 come true, Looms will loom on the horizon in fall 2012.

Camille Martin

Poetry & peak foliage

Photo: Camille Martin

         Ongoing fantasy: to book poetry readings with perfect timing for the peak ripening of fall colours. I hit the gold, orange, and red jackpot in Ottawa and Kingston during my recent readings for the AB Series (hosted by Max Middle) and the Thrive Series (hosted by Erin Foley). The views from the train were gorgeous, and the lush backdrop of colours made walking around town with friends before and after the reading that much more enjoyable.
         Photos from the readings in Ottawa and Kingston:

Photo credit: Max Middle

AB Series, showing my new Above/Ground chapbook, If Leaf, Then Arpeggio, with colliding galaxies on the cover

Photo credit: Pearl Pirie

AB Series

Photo credit: Erin Foley

Thrive Series reading from Sonnets (dig the moose-muse!)

Thanks to Max Middle and Erin Foley, intrepid and community-creating curators;

Zorras Multimedia Troupe for putting on a spectacular show in Ottawa;

Dean and Francoise Steadman, who graciously hosted me in Ottawa;

Charles and Amanda Earl, who gave me a terrific tour of Ottawa and made me want to pack up and move there immediately;

rob mclennan for bringing If Leaf, Then Arpeggio, my Above/Ground chapbook hot off the press, to the reading;

Christine McNair and rob mclennan, who invited me to have dinner with them in their fantastic new digs in an old Victorian house in Ottawa;

Bruce Kauffman for interviewing me on CFRC-FM in Kingston;

and to those wonderful souls who attended the readings, made me feel welcome, and even bought some books.

Camille Martin

Trains & poetry were meant to be (fall readings)

I have a great fall lineup of readings, starting with Grey Borders in St. Catharines, Ontario, on Friday, September 23 – two weeks from today.

I’ll be reading with Shannon Maguire, Aisha Sasha John, and Zorras Multimedia Troupe—a treat to be reading with these terrific poets! And many thanks to Eric Schmaltz and the Niagara Artist Centre for making this event happen.

Then on to Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Washington DC, and New York.

I’ll have copies of Codes of Public Sleep and Sonnets at each stop on the tours, but if you’d like to get a copy now, just go to my website, which lists clickable vendors for these books.

I’m doing all these trips by VIA Rail and Amtrak. There’s nothing better for writing than a window seat on a train . . .

Camille Martin

Camille Martin, Beatriz Hausner, and Claire Lacey at AvantGarden (Toronto)

Please join Beatriz Hausner, Claire Lacey, and me next Tuesday, June 7, for our AvantGarden reading at The Ossington (Toronto).

I’ll read never-before-aired poems from my new manuscript “Looms.” Copies of my recently-published Sonnets (Shearsman Books, 2010) will be available for purchase.

A big thanks to hosts Liz Howard and Shannon Maguire!

Time: Tuesday, June 7, 6:30 pm—9:30 pm
Location: The Ossington (61 Ossington Avenue, Toronto)

Beatriz Hausner’s (Toronto, ON) poetry is rooted in the legacy of international surrealism, especially its Spanish American expression. Hausner’s extensive work as a translator has focused on the writers of that literature, including Rosamel del Valle, Enrique Molina, Olga Orozco, César Moro, the poets of Mandrágora, among many others. Hausner’s work has been anthologized and published in journals both in Canada and internationally, in French, Spanish and Portuguese translation. Recent publications of her poetry include: The Wardrobe Mistress (2003), Towards the Ideal Man Poems (2003), The Stitched Heart (2004), The Archival Stone (2005) and Sew Him Up (2010). Hausner is one of the publishers of Quattro Books (www.quattrobooks.ca). She works as a public librarian in Toronto.

Camille Martin, a Toronto poet, is the author of three books of poetry: Sonnets, Codes of Public Sleep, and Sesame Kiosk. Her work has been widely and internationally published in journals and translated into Spanish and German. Her current works in progress are “Looms,” a collection of layered narratives, and “The Evangeline Papers,” a poetic sequence based on her Cajun/Acadian heritage.

Claire Lacey blogs as poetactics. Claire studied English language and literature at Glendon College then headed west to cause a ruckus as a patagrad at the University of Calgary, where she writes poetry about linguistics and birds and bridges. Claire spent the last year working as writer-in-residence at a Calgary high school to convince students that poetry isn’t boring. Claire is poetry editor of Dandelion magazine.



Camille Martin


photo: rob mclennan

I’ve been Influencied! Last Wednesday, Sonnets was the focus of Margaret Christakos’ Influency class at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Education. After Margaret’s warm-up introduction, students read reflections on the book and rob mclennan gave a talk about it (which can be read here). I read from the book (and from my manuscript “Looms”) and then there was a general discussion.

What a brilliant idea, this class! In a few weeks, I’ll be on the other side of the magnifying glass as I give a talk on Kaie Kellough’s Maple Leaf Rag. I’m especially looking forward to hearing Kaie again. I read with him in Montreal a couple of years ago—he’s a mind-blowing performer!



Camille Martin

Sonnets “torqued high”

Check out this new and excellent review of Sonnets by Marianne Villanueva in Galatea Resurrects #16.

Villanueva’s take: Sonnets is “rigorous and uncompromising . . . intellectually fearsome . . . torqued high.”

Click here for links to distributors that carry Sonnets.



Camille Martin

Bill Knott’s strong-lined sonnets

Bill Knott, Fifty (Rhyming) Sonnets: A Selection from 1969-2009

          I recently received two gorgeous hand-made books from Bill Knott featuring his original art on the covers, front and back, including the above Fifty Sonnets. I’ve been wanting to feature some of his works on Rogue Embryo, and given my predilection for sonnets, I’ve chosen four from this collection, reproduced below.
          Normally skeptical about contemporary poetry that rhymes, I have no such reservations about Knott’s formal excursions. The rhymes are woven into the poems in such a way that they might be perceived only subliminally at first.
          That effect of seamlessness has something to do, I think, with the lineage of these sonnets from Metaphysical poetry’s “strong lines”: the complex, elliptical syntax with its hierarchy of nested dependent clauses; the use of sustained metaphor or conceit; and the intellectual stance, delighting in irony and paradox. The diction is often densely musical, turning alliterative Hopkinesque phrases with compound adjectives (as in “gallant-grieved angels’-armor” and “brief bloomed steam-sheaf”). The serpentine syntax and compressed music of some of these sonnets recall the complexity of poets like Donne: difficult nuts to crack, but rewarding.
          Bill Knott is famously as open about his work (most of which is self-published or posted online) as he is reluctant to allow publishers to assemble selections. I hope the latter changes, but meanwhile it’s wonderful to have these tangible and lovingly assembled books with his original art on the covers.
          SPD carries two titles by Knott: Stigmata Errata Etcetera and The Quicken Tree. His 2006 collection The Unsubscriber is also available from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
          Check out more of Bill Knott at his poetry blog, his prose blog, and his art blog.

THE HUNGER (enneasysyllabics)

If a path to the Gingerbread House
could be established by breaking crumbs
off its edifice and sprinkling them
so as to find what lies behind us

across the featureless fairytale
void of childhood: yet how very quick
that trick wears out when the story’s track
takes hold, takes toll, a far-older trail

prevails, we’re forced to give up this lost
cause; and the fact is that every last
morsel was gone long before the you

or I might totter our way back here
to try to dissuade all these other
Hansel-Gretels hollering in queue.


Who sought that sad height and that constant change
Laboring on an extraneous verse
Which through the dispersion of universe
Might elect one second whose spectrum’s range

Was so capricious it broke the scholar
Caught in daily efforts to confine the eye
Pursuant of ceruleanesques that lie
Against each longong to fling a color

As brief as my life if I am alive
And am the one destined to undergo
Any authorship of the words that show
Whether such vexacious tints can survive—

You must judge, ancient friend! what I’ve seen
Or accept as real the illusion I mean.


Ray that overturns every pane,
force that first invades but then

is pervaded: sunstripe penetrant!—
what made your phalanx fail: why can’t

its gallant-grieved angels’ armour
avert our dirt: must the conqueror

convert his ways, the savour adope
savage customs? The slaves currupt

all bright kings—each mote of us
holds abject thought that blots with dust

your gold-shed greatness: shadow
breaks your arc and essence. How

transient the transparency
your brandished here so recently.


The bacon of the ankles crackles, and the sky
Perks up birds this coldsnap morning—very
breath sheds a breath-effect, brief-bloomed steam-sheaf . . .
Puddles huddle in frost. Past the barn the path

Shoots hill-pastures which rose to winter early
And sun-shucked clouds blast-off from: migrants that fly
South—mouths that wet-nurse icicles—hatch forth
A form, a furious precision I sloughed

At birth, preferring life. And like the wind
Can reduce anything to description—
Running to finish my chores, beneath my scarf

I’ll feel my chinbone seek my collarbone,
As if the flesh has ceded and the skeleton
Now must precipice itself against all warmth.

Camille Martin

The Street Names of Toronto

So that Rogue Embryo isn’t completely idle during the break, I’m posting three poems from Sonnets, originally published in The Literary Review of Canada—I hope you enjoy this holiday holding pattern.

And please stay tuned in the new year for more reviews, poetry collages, whatnot . . .

the street names of toronto

a great benefactor, you planted more fruit trees
in the aftermath of your tragic death than during
your expansive life. you discovered gold
and had music piped in. and then your name lost an “e”
in a fencing accident. in 1927 you opened the university
of the difficulties of the poor, who danced
a minuet of sublimation rather than eat their soggy
sustenance. armed with pitchforks and other farm implements,
a feed mill and an amusement park managed to survive
your last act as lieutenant governor. we seek you,
great benefactor. although you can still be spotted underwater
or strolling through hollows, you are an unsuitable
subject for the queen. the hurons killed and ate you,
and now you are a street.

you were a brewer and a faithful methodist. prejudiced
against trees, you imported some of your prize bushes
from a brickyard in scotland. though considered ineffective,
you dreamed of living in a real castle
with thirty bathrooms and ornamental lakes
for the ponies. during the rosedale croquet riots,
the house of lords burned your effigy
at their clubhouse. after hanging the rebels,
you rebuilt your tavern and outlived all your accusers.
eventually your debts drove you to selling candy floss
in public dance halls and lunatic asylums. you left
instructions for your heart to be tucked away
in a place with no alcoholic beverages,
and now you are a street.

you had the checkered early history
of an anointed bishop who ate french fries
in paper cones and snowflake donuts
on the side. you traded blankets for fishhooks
and carried people, mail, and goods to rousing
camp meetings, despite a good deal of ill feeling.
after you sold most of your land, your name
was often misspelled. in spite of your emotionally
disturbed outlook, you moved to york
at 600 feet per hour and set up a shop that will soon
be razed. in a streak of good fortune, you were knighted
for introducing showgirls and rhubarb to the area.
then dynamite exploded in your face,
and now you are a street.



Camille Martin

Carol Dorf reviews Camille Martin’s Sonnets

I just came across Carol Dorf’s terrific review of my recent poetry collection, Sonnets, at New Pages Book Reviews:

“Can you pour new wine into old bottles? Well, if you are Camille Martin and the bottles are sonnets, the answer is an emphatic, “Yes.” [click here to read the full review]



Camille Martin

The Fledgling Book Flies the Nest

          This post is more meditative and personal than most of my literary musings, but I’ve been thinking about various reactions to some of the poems in Sonnets.
          As I was putting together the final manuscript of Sonnets, naturally I made certain decisions about which to include and which to put on the back burner, perhaps for future revisions. As well, in the final, published, version, there are some sonnets that I feel closer to than others.
          But once my book goes out into the world, I have no control over which poems, to quote Dickinson, make readers feel physically as if the top of their head is coming off, and which, not so much.
          For example, one friend named a sonnet that he particularly enjoyed. It was one that in the editing stage I had seriously considered tossing. This has happened often enough to bring home the point that after a work is released into the world, the author becomes largely irrelevant, unless biographical information contributes to the meaning of a poem (my Katrina poems, for example)—and even then. Unmoored from the intentions and contextual significance in the mind of the poet, readers become, to use Barthes’ term, writerly. I might not share a certain predilection for or interpretation of a poem, but who am I to say? And it’s a pleasure for me to know how others are reading my work.
          At a reading, I sometimes find myself about to start talking about what the poem means to me and then catch myself, so as not to impose a set of significations to the poem.
          And in the editing stage, when I had trusted friends help me to edit the manuscript, one editor felt that a certain sonnet should be dropped, while another felt it absolutely must be included. I hated to be the one to break the tie, but more often than not, iI decided to include it, since at least one seasoned poet felt strongly about it, and I didn’t want to deny the little sonnet its chance to shine, even if only for a minority of readers.
          It can be illuminating and broadening to read other’s interpretations of particular poems. Not long ago, Bill Knott wrote a sensitive and insightful analysis of one of the sonnets, “comatose in paradise,” in which he gave it a depth of meaning and pointed out interconnected ideas that I hadn’t noticed before. As much pleasure and satisfaction as I derive from writing, it’s at least as gratifying to hear others’ take on the poetry. Perhaps it’s true that poets are the worst interpreters of their own poetry.
          I’m wondering what others think when they hear such unexpected feedback from others.

Camille Martin

SPD recommends Sonnets

Sonnets is on the “SPD Recommends” list at Small Press Distribution. Here’s their webpage for the book.

Do support this terrific distributor – I have purchased many, many books from them over the years, and am glad to see them going strong.

And if you live in Toronto, you can pick up a copy of Sonnets at the inimitable, the one and only, This Ain’t the Rosedale Library. Accept no substitutes.

Camille Martin

Sonnets – European reading tour

Vulcan is cooperating for now, so my reading tour in the UK, Ireland, and Paris to celebrate the publication of my new book Sonnets by the fabulous Shearsman Books is on. A recent review and ordering information follows the itinerary below. If you are going to be in any of these places, please come!

London, England
7:30 pm, Tuesday, May 4
Shearsman Reading Series
Swedenborg Hall, Swedenborg House / 20/21 Bloomsbury Way
Readers: Camille Martin (publisher’s launch of Sonnets) and Alasdair Paterson

Bangor, Wales
7:30 pm, Thursday, May 6
Blue Sky Cafe / High Street
A triple launch – Camille Martin’s Sonnets, Ian Davidson’s Into Thick Hair, and the new issue of Poetry Wales

St. Helier, Isle of Jersey
8:00 pm, Saturday, May 8
PoAttic Reading Series
The Attic in the Jersey Opera House

Cork, Ireland
Monday, May 10
6:30 – 8:00 pm: workshop
9:00 pm: reading
Ó Bhéal Reading Series / The Long Valley

Salford, England
6:00 – 8:00 pm, Tuesday, May 11
University of Salford
Two-hour session with students in the MA in Creative Writing program

Paris, France
7:30 pm, Tuesday, May 18
Ivy Writers Reading Series
Le Next / 17 rue Tiqutonne, Paris

A recent review of Sonnets by rob mclennan:

There are so few that seem to know how to bring something new to an often-used form that when it happens, it’s worth noting, and such is the case with Toronto poet Camille Martin in her second trade poetry collection, Sonnets (Exeter, England: Shearsman Books, 2010). Martin, an American relocated north after Hurricane Katrina, writes with the most wonderful sense of clarity, thought and play in these poems . . .

Read the entire review here

See the Shearsman webpage for ordering information, or go straight to SPD.

Camille Martin

rob mclennan reviews Sonnets

There are so few that seem to know how to bring something new to an often-used form that when it happens, it’s worth noting, and such is the case with Toronto poet Camille Martin in her second trade poetry collection, Sonnets (Exeter, England: Shearsman Books, 2010). Martin, an American relocated north after Hurricane Katrina, writes with the most wonderful sense of clarity, thought and play in these poems, and with a flavour . . . (read more)

Sonnets is now available! Read its first review . . .

You can find ordering information for Sonnets here.

I was pleased to read an enthusiastic review of Sonnets recently in Stride Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
        “Sonnets is a delightful body of work. Even though we wander
        into the oblique there is never alienation because the words
        are too beautiful …. Incredible poetic craft.”
             —James Mc Laughlin, Stride Magazine

Read the review here.

Camille Martin

Stoning the Devil on my sonnets in moria magazine

Adam Fieled’s review and thoughtful analysis of some of my sonnets published in moria magazine:

“I was excited to find a group of wonderful sonnets from Camille Martin. What I at first dimly suspected has now been affirmed; there is as much vitality, craft, and genuine art being transmitted via the Web as there is being released via print journals. Martin’s sonnets deserve a closer look. I have chosen two of the six to look at . . .”
             —Adam Fieled, Stoning the Devil
Click here to read more.
Camille Martin

scattering dust is good practice

Four of my double sonnets have just been published in Stride Magazine, edited by British poet Rupert Loydell. The link:

Camille Martin