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About this poet

Charles Martin was born in New York City in 1942 and grew up in the Bronx. He is a graduate of Fordham University in New York City and received his Doctorate from SUNY at Buffalo. His most recent book of poems, Starting From Sleep: New and Selected Poems (The Overlook Press, 2002), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and was chosen as a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award of the Academy of American Poets.

Two of his earlier books of poems, What the Darkness Proposes (1996) and Steal the Bacon (1987), were both nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Hudson Review, Boulevard, and The Threepenny Review, among others.

About his work, the poet X. J. Kennedy has said: "A poet of masterly command, Charles Martin can think fiercely and feel intensely. He can captivate us with a sustained narrative, or dazzle us with a wicked epigram."

Martin is an acclaimed translator of Latin poetry. His verse translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (W. W. Norton, 2003) received the 2004 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has also published translations of the complete poems of Catullus (Johns Hopkins, 1990) and a critical introduction to Catullus's work which is part of Yale University Press's Hermes Series.

He is the recipient of the Literature award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Bess Hokin Award from Poetry, a 2001 Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A professor at Queensborough Community College (CUNY), he also teaches poetry at Syracuse University, and has taught workshops at the Sewanee Writers Conference, the West Chester Conference on Form and Narrative in Poetry, and the Unterberg Center of the 92nd Street YMHA. In 2006, he was appointed Cathedral Poet in Residence at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. He lives in Manhattan and Syracuse with his wife, arts journalist Johanna Keller.

Taken Up

Charles Martin, 1942
Tired of earth, they dwindled on their hill,
Watching and waiting in the moonlight until
The aspens' leaves quite suddenly grew still,

No longer quaking as the disc descended,
That glowing wheel of lights whose coming ended
All waiting and watching. When it landed

The ones within it one by one came forth,
Stalking out awkwardly upon the earth,
And those who watched them were confirmed in faith:

Mysterious voyagers from outer space,
Attenuated, golden—shreds of lace
Spun into seeds of the sunflower's spinning face—

Light was their speech, spanning mind to mind:
We come here not believing what we find—
Can it be your desire to leave behind

The earth, which even those called angels bless,
Exchanging amplitude for emptiness?
And in a single voice they answered Yes,

Discord of human melodies all blent
To the unearthly harmony of their assent.
Come then, the Strangers said, and those who were taken, went.

From Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems by Charles Martin. Copyright © 2002 by Charles Martin. Reprinted with the permission of The Overlook Press.

From Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems by Charles Martin. Copyright © 2002 by Charles Martin. Reprinted with the permission of The Overlook Press.

Charles Martin

Charles Martin

Charles Martin was born in New York City in 1942 and grew

by this poet

poem
One of their picture books would no doubt show
The two lost children wandering in a maze
Of anthropomorphic tree limbs: the familiar crow

Swoops down upon the trail they leave of corn,
Tolerant of the error of their ways.
Hand in hand they stumble onto the story,

Brighteyed with beginnings of fever, scared
poem
To take steps toward the reappearance alive of the disappeared is a subversive act, 
and measures will be adopted to deal with it.
                               —General Oscar Mejia Victores,
                                  President of Guatemala


In the Palace of the President this morning,
The