- Founder/Managing Editor Black Elephant Literary Review
With “Never Completely Awake,” Martina Reisz Newberry gives us a substantial collection. In it she is glancing over her shoulder, rummaging through the dark in an attempt to come to terms with a vantage point that skirts the abyss. She peers over the edge, balances on the precipice.
Never Completely Awake is both an accounting of time and an attempt to transcend it. Newberry addresses her lists, counts the worthwhile moments and aches in the rough spots to define meaning and beauty. In fact, this is where she begins, with what is beautiful – the cleanliness of bones in moonlight, the accident of passion – and the list goes on. Here the poet’s maternal sense cannot be denied. She wraps us in beauty before sending us out into the thick of it; the dark, the sensual, the uncertain and sometimes broken.
Ultimately the reader will find that Newberry is a poet’s poet. She attends to words, structure and form with admirable diligence. She makes no apologies and goes about the work of articulating life with a certain sangfroid. Never Completely Awake doesn’t set out to show us the world through impossible metaphors and heartbreaking genius. Instead Newberry guides us through the nuance of ordinary life. We traverse fear, loneliness, passion, and grief in an attempt to excavate our authentic selves and extrapolate beauty from the mundane.
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These poems are terrestrial and Newberry is grounded among them yet a frenetic undercurrent cannot be ignored. However subtly, Never Completely Awake is attempting something monumental. Newberry knows that poetry is the elixir and she wants to live forever.
Pieces like “Hallways:”
I see you little brother. I call down,
but you ignore me. Your long, skinny legs
and arms float like an alien’s limbs in
low gravity. You do not wave to me
and I realize I am watching the dead.
In a dream,
the ghost of my arm
my face as if
to ease the frown lines,
but it did not work.
You cannot feel
what you can see through.
ensure that, even if she doesn’t attain the immortality she seeks, we certainly are glad that she tried.
- Poetry Editor: Chiron Review
- author of POETS AND PLEASURE SEEKERS
“These poems are driven by a passion both sexual and scriptural through configurations of surrender to instinctive logic and imaginative opportunities. Nothing is lost upon her.”
- founder of Red Wing Center for the Arts, Red Wing Minnesota
“Martina Reisz Newberry’s newest collection, Never Completely Awake, is nothing short of breathtaking. In poem after poem you find a generous spirit, a stunning acuity of image and vision, and, above all, her rare gift to wake us to a deeper circuitry…”
- Author of Scanning for Tigers
“Transfixed by the hourglass, yearning for continuance the voices invoked by Newberry quest after ways to transcend, to keep going. Here, struggle and surrender dance their inseparable tango…”
- author of Rich In Love
- and Nowhere Else On Earth
I’m just plain bowled over by Martina Newberry’s poetry collection WHERE IT GOES.
These are poems I’ll read over and over again, for the pure strength of their language and the surprises, light and dark, that they unroll.
- Author of In The City of Smoking Mirrors
- Associate Professor of English, University of Dayton
This book rocked me, threw me off the chair in the little forest where I dwell. These
poems made me cry, cheer, laugh, made chills run down my spine.
In her new poems, “Where it Goes,” Martina Reisz Newberry conjures the mythopoetic, the natural, conjures the contact zone of the body in nature, fully aware of itself and of nature’s powers. Her poems are some times harsh and honest about the self in relation to others, and the lived life: human, to be sure. Meditative in the face of death and ruin. Starling and surreal, intoxicated with love and lust, in its images, and her characters, the book achieves a rare form history from the inside: real old desperate “hipsters,” suburbanites, the poet as a visionary and voiced persona narrating the adversity of living in the 21st century. There is a gentle but convincing gathering of the past that has created the sharp present in this book. So when she looks back, it is with passion and fury and wisdom: there are political poems here which dare to dissect the darkness in which we all walk, a darkness we’ve been acquainted with for a long time. Here and there, her poems are neat, sharp, beams of light, sunlight and soul-light. There is a hint of the Ginsberg, the Levertov and the Bukowski in the metaphysics she’s dealing with. She reaches amazing levels of passion, her words are even and precise and put together organically, creating startling and beautiful vistas of life—and by this I don’t mean she hews to the golden mean—she makes poems organically, she speaks her visions and meditations in the projective, in the space between bodies, in the space between the city, nature, and herself. As a poet Reisz Newberry crafts lines of hot, personal intensities:
- author of fiction and poetry Founder, Tammel Productions,
- leads Poets and Dreamers series of creative writing workshops
Martina Newberry’s latest collection, WHERE IT GOES, meditates with profound compassion, revealing the delicate complexities of the human heart. With honesty, wit, imaginative breadth and prosodic grace, thorough poems like Those Who Pray, Prima Serata, and Incantation, Newberry explores the painful themes of death and life, youth and aging, prayer and spirituality, forcing us to examine our relationships both past and present.
Newberry’s words, through inherent lyrical sense and spiritual wisdom, evokea magical illumination of the ordinary, as shown in poems like Those Who Pray: “When Prospero’s bell rings, we walk / out and guess at why the afternoon is so old,/ gray instead of gold. It shuffles along, won’t let / us make out who comes there wading through the gray. / Sadness billows, sways in the twilight breeze like a / full skirt. Time to go home. “
In poems like On South Vermont, through an explorative curiosity of form and language, the poet follows her own careful, at-times Roethke-like rhythm. In fact, the sentiment of this entire collection can almost be summed up in the lovely last lines of that poem: “A tourist told me, ‘This is a scary town.’ / I agreed. There was room for fear. / But it was the city, you see, and / there was room for everything. Even me.”
With intense human vulnerability and wondrous irony, Newberry’s matter-of-fact, descriptive storytelling renders the poignant moments of life in an earnest tone that is both sensuous and nostalgic. WHERE IT GOES, altogether luminous and universal, relates us to one another, bringing us closer to a rich understanding of our world and ourselves.
Madeline Taskey Sharples
- author of Leaving the Hall Light On
Where It Goes is a spectacular collection of poems. In a strong and nostalgic voice Martina Newberry writes about aging, death, old lovers, old friends, the old streets of Los Angeles, and poetry, “Poem comes from/ inside/the body/to heart/to mind/back to fingers/holding pen/” She asks the questions all of us must ask as we age: “I think/ long and often/ about what calls us/ What calls up to give up/ this for that?”
Her words are hopeful, “Still, comes that moment: breeze blowing/the scent of Star Jasmine of the front porch./We stop dying for that moment, postpone/all that aggravates us.”
She also writes, “I am delighted with my disasters” and so am I. And her words are dark, “so/ dark, it can’t be lit by a thousand/lamps.”
I especially loved her descriptions of the old east side of Los Angeles, “The fierce city drew in its claws to pat my ass” “There was room for fear./But it was the city, you see, and/ there was room for everything. Even me.”
These poems are dirges, laments, and anthems that take us from the first, Where It Goes, “Where does it go, all that living?” to the last, Where It Goes II, “My face, wet, pillowed,/ached with ignorance./Where did everything go?”
- editor of Drunk Monkeys
The work in Martina Newberry’s poetry collection Where It Goes is so breathtaking in its variety and originality.
In how well it reminds us that our memories can be as wonderful and dangerous as the reality staring us right in the face.
The task of picking a favorite piece is a daunting one. Choosing one thing in Where It Goes that will illustrate in every line how well Newberry crafts intensely introspective poems is next-to-impossible.
- poet, editor of Ascent Aspirations Magazine
This collection is so rich in its images, its metaphors, and its messages, that these comments barely scrape the surface.
However we get impressions of a poet struggling with the big universal and personal issues; a poet with her own voice firmly established in the music of her words.
You can’t just read these poems once and not return; they call you back time and again. see more…
From the initial read, to a more careful examination of her verse, Newberry’s words continuously undressed my own personal dogmas and steadily draped them in a more brilliant and genuine perspective.
Much like Dante’s Virgil, Newberry becomes a personal, poetic guide, and allows her voice to lead the reader through the various realms of consciousness towards a purer state of being at the end.
With each turn of the page, her poems seem to touch on another layer of life and ultimately force the reader to examine themselves through a lens different from their own.
She embraces the unknown and carefully asserts an interpretation of her own life experiences in a way that makes you reflect on your own.
- reviewer Los Angeles Review of Books
Martina Reisz Newberry’s latest collection of poems, Learning by Rote, examines the shape of love, ageing, and coping with the left-handed curveballs that life sometimes throws at us in sixty well-crafted poems. The author is skilled in the use of poetic forms from ghazal to pantoum to tanka. The overall effect is one that makes the reader look deeper into those things we take for granted.
- Pacific University of Oregon 2012
- Emmy Award-winning poet, photographer, media artist
One gets the sense from Martina Newberry’s poems of a poet that gets distinctive delight in the surprises of sudden and enlightening insight and discovery through the practice of verse. These poems study with unflinching curiosity the peculiar ways and thoughts of modern human society. The end result are well crafted poems that have a disarming emotional honesty that is simply refreshing.
- author of The Low End of Higher Things,
- Poet Laureate, St. Louis, MO
Whether turning her attention to a mother’s precarious night kitchen, the courage in the smoke from English Ovals, Irving Penn’s photograph of Parisian butchers, the 1957 coincidence of Hoffa’s election as Teamsters president and Russia’s launch of the world’s first artificial satellite into space, or the hurricane that arrives in the middle of an already weepy day, Martina Newberry makes unexpected music we’re better off for listening to…
When it comes to love, war, friendship, and loss, Newberry’s double-edged blade of memory is never less than finely honed.
She understands that—somewhere, everywhere, sooner or later—it’s a matter of physical, emotional, or psychic survival.
In these poems you’ll find no small share of humane deliverance—one very human life at a time.
Eloise Klein Healy
- author of The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho
Martina Newberry is a surprising poet. Just when you think you know what she knows, you don’t. She knows more and has the words to prove it.
I found myself falling for her sense of things, appreciating not only that she has earned it but that she displays it with a nicely sharp edge.
- author of What We Don’t Know About Each Other,
- Winner of the National Book Award
Whether playful or sad, boisterous or tender, Martina Newberry’s poems always feel like affirmations–heartfelt, and hard-won. “It seems you have to keep loving/a thing so that it can live” she writes. That’s the aim of these exuberant poems, and the reader’s reward is to feel again the resilience of the spirit, and the saving grace of language.
- internationally-known scholar
- filmmaker on foreign & domestic policy issues
Martina Reisz Newberry embodies a compelling story telling style reminiscent of Robert Frost, the enigmatic brilliance of Emily Dickinson and the working class insights of the great singer-poet John Prine…The volume brings readers to mysterious and perilous emotional places, where teenage girls experience their first sexual ambiguities and then, as women, experience involuntary recall over an open mango, like Marcel Proust’s daydream provoked by a napkin in the teacup.