American Music whirls readers and speaker alike in the froth of postmodern America, where the constant barrage of stimuli merges into a loud reverberating hum of confusion, and “America roils.” This is a book of poems that project; everything is moving within a broad and ranging array of allusions. The reader isn’t crushed by the dystopic world’s dispassion, and Martin isn’t agitated to despondent complacency. His tone may be terse at times but it is never bitter, and he is always astonished that we are, any of us, here at all.
“Chris Martin… takes the O’Hara city poet eye in his own direction, showing a sweet vision for the distance between public and private spaces.” —Jacket
“[Martin’s] collection is controlled, tightly knit, and formally and thematically cohesive.” —Luna
“With this lively debut collection Chris Martin establishes himself as a young poet with an arresting voice. American Music is a series of light-stepping meditations on city life that manage to be both profound and playful, with an unpretentious freshness that sets it apart from the usual hipster-in-the-city banalities… it is Martin’s unlikely perceptions and inventive language, the effortless leap from the specific detail to the universal truth, that transcends the quotidian details… It takes admirable discipline for [Martin] to stick with this one form (fourteen to twenty six unrhymed tercets) for the duration of a full-length book, but such restraint gives the verse an organic transparency—an uncluttered directness of expression—and the volume benefits from its smooth uniformity of form and internal consistency. The true appeal of these poems is located in the way the observation of gritty realities can serve as a springboard for abstract and metaphysical considerations that would not be out of place in the work of Wallace Stevens… American Music is a superior piece of writing, and Chris Martin is a welcome addition to the every-expanding roster of contemporary poets.” —Rain Taxi
“… a one-volume victory streak.” —Pantaloons: Tykes on Poetry
“American Music hit the spot for me. It’s a world, bearing a fluent range of thought, feeling, language; located, yet restless and streaming.” —C.D. Wright
“To be multivalent and yet so graceful is an amazing feat, aided by the regular three-lined stanzas that give [American Music] an even pace.” —American Poetry
“In Chris Martin’s first full-length book, American Music… [we] are whirled together through a cacophonous chorus of postmodern America.” —Poetry Daily