Marsh Hawk Press offers a “Three Questions” Series for its authors to discuss individual titles—an index to the Series is available HERE. We are pleased to present this Q&A with Martha King and her 2004 book:
1) What is something not known or obvious about your book Imperfect Fit?
The underlying theme of war, the cost of war, the persistence of war’s after-effects. Even I didn’t recognize how strong a current it is until I assembled the poems, which were written over a period of perhaps 15-20 years.
2) Please share some responses to your book that’s surprised you, or made you happy or disappointed. If your book is relatively new, share some of your hopes for how readers might respond or how the book finds its way in the world.
What’s sad is that the two most cherished comments came from people who are no longer on earth: Bob Creeley (noting my work has “ascerbic wit and deft humor”) and Paul Metcalf’s southernism: “Lambert Davis’ lil’ daughter Martha sure can be funny about death.” Otherwise I can’t think of any comments. The book description on Google Books I wrote myself, which I thought I was giving away with those free-range chickens. It was probably way too indirect. It’s not bad though:
History as content has a sharper feel to more Americans post 9/11. Martha King's work shivers with awareness of mortality and the echoes of history's violence. Wars—even those removed in time by generations—dislocate the present in many of these poems. In others, war is the long loving/hating war of parents and children, or the imperfect fit between human activity and what is called the natural world. These poems, written over the past 20 years, celebrate the ability of humor to squelch sentimental responses and the requirement of wit for free-range chickens.
3) If you had to choose a favorite poem or a poem to highlight from the book, which one would you choose and why?
It’s very hard to do this despite the obvious fact that not all the poems are equally “good.” I put it the other way and asked myself if there were any poems in this book I wished I had not included. Somehow the answer is no. There are reasons for all of them. As for reprint, alas sheer laziness intervenes. I don’t have electronic copies of these works. They were all on an older computer. So I’m picking a shorter one, to minimize retyping.
Raleigh, we’ve not been beyond
earshot of builders for ten generations
in a cloud of noise and dust
huge yellow cats
clamber the red hill
rupturing oak roots
the wheel is visceral, rolling in blood
the grit is orange
black spots of august
tannic and diesel fuel
hot in my face
your road in America
always the personal—
please bring me health!
I read of an old friend’s death as if
road had never been paved
great trees at the verge won’t survive
already their green leaves whiten
of innocent skin
they build my America, Raleigh
Stop for a pipe and discuss it, my red hungry friend
We thank Martha King for participating in this Q&A. You can visit her at her website with Basil King: KING INK!