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2014: The Spoons In The Grass Are There To Dig A Moat

by Amelia Martens


Amelia Martens’s prose poems reveal expansive ideas in compressed language. From the domestic to the geopolitical, from the mundane to the miraculous, from heartbreak to hilarity, these brief vignettes take the form of prayers, parables, confessions, and revelations. Intimate and urgent, Martens’s poems are strange, darkly funny, and utterly beguiling.

Amelia Martens is the author of the chapbooks Purgatory (winner of the Spring 2010 Black River Chapbook competition, published by Black Lawrence Press in 2012), Clatter (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2013), and A Series of Faults (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in such journals as Cold Mountain Review, The Connecticut Review, and The Madison Review, among others. Martens received an MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University and lives in Paducah, Kentucky, where she teaches at West Kentucky Community & Technical College. A co-founder of the Rivertown Reading Series, she received an Emerging Artist Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council in 2010.


“Whether she is proffering chilling indications of an apocalypse, agonizing over an earnest apology, or conjuring the latent melancholy of bedtime, [Martens] remains both playful and precise, at once whimsical and commanding…. As tangible as it is surreal.”

“Martens’s stripped-down language is her greatest asset, finding expression in ‘an ache shaped like a sunflower’. . . the personal touches soar, evidence of a solid poet finding her voice.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Amelia Martens’ richly imaginative first book. . .will likely be one of this year’s best debuts. . . .Grim assessments, juxtaposed with domestic studies that celebrate the whimsy and innocence of young daughters, render The Spoons in the Grass Are There to Dig a Moat a dizzying little book that yearns for escapism even as it insists on documenting our self-destruction. . . .Wondrous imagination, political astuteness, and refreshingly original voice.”
—Plume Poetry

“You’ll never read a more playful book of doomsday poems than Amelia Martens’s The Spoons in the Grass Are There to Dig a Moat. Martens’s dark humor is delightfully paired with her astute observations of quiet pleasures. Her poems are grand with sweeping cosmic battles and frequent mentions of death and the end times, while also intricately small.”
—South 85

“A Powerful and original collection.”
—Maurice Manning

“Wise, joyous, keen, tender. . . . She shows us the divine in the most unexpected places.”
—Catherine Bowman

“Heartbreaking and hilarious. . . . Martens is a magician and her magic is potent.”
—Richard Cecil

“Amelia Martens is one of a kind, a true original, a rare star.”
—Nin Andrews

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