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Underdays: Poems by Martin Ott

Source: Bostick Communications
Paperback, 72 pgs.
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Underdays: Poems by Martin Ott is a collection that seeks to dissect human motivations to love, to hate, to soldier on, and more.  His poems express this search through a dialogue within their lines and between one another, almost like people in deep conversation.  Readers may see this technique as an extension of his days as a U.S. Army interrogator, as Ott continues to dig deeper to find kernels of truth and fact.  He opens with a poem that examines the undercarriage of retirement, what does it mean to retire, how does it feel.  In the poem, it’s clear that there is an expectation about retirement that does not come to pass:

From "The Interrogator in Retirement" (pg. 3)

He wants to love recklessly
but his eyes remain desert
dry, unable to view clear skies
without seeing the curtains,

He examines this new found freedom with a critical eye. How do you move beyond what came before, even if you have no further obligations and you’re beholden to only yourself and your desires?  Ott creates tales that unfold and fold unto themselves, taking readers on winding journeys — much like those in real life that are never a straight line from point A to point B.  His images are fresh and nuanced, and will force readers to rethink their own perceptions of retirement, work, and death.

From "Survivor's Manual to Love and War" (pg. 6)

Death is a loving dog
with no children or chew toys
to occupy its attention.
It will lick you into submission,
this inevitable pack instinct,
to join the vast departed.

He examines what it means to face death and how alluring it can be when things are hopeless, but he also counters these examinations with a look at how much we do to stave off death and avoid it altogether just so we can eek out just a little bit more time with loved ones. Ott’s images will stay with readers long after poems are read, like a man who turns into “a dragon … sucking fumes in motor pools” or the clacking of Salinger’s typewriter on the battlefield sounding “like gold fillings against wet pavement.”

Some poems seem to be about the mundane, like why he doesn’t set the clock in his car or why he doesn’t carry an umbrella, but these poems, too, become something more — a time travel journey with kids or the hidden dangers of the umbrella and how it can die just from being opened.  Underdays: Poems by Martin Ott, winner of the , turns over the rocks in our lives to find the darkness, the humor, and the introspective nature we hide as we trudge through daily activities.

About the Poet:

Born in Alaska and raised in Michigan, Martin Ott served as an interrogator in U.S. Army military intelligence. He moved to Los Angeles to attend the Masters of Professional Writing Program at USC, and often writes about his adopted city, including in the novel The Interrogator’s Notebook (currently being pitched by Paradigm as a TV pilot) and poetry books Captive, De Novo Prize Winner, C&R Press and Underdays, Sandeen Prize Winner, University of Notre Dame Press (Fall 2015).

Social and political themes are prevalent in all of his books, particularly Poets’ Guide to America and Yankee Broadcast Network, coauthored with John F. Buckley, Brooklyn Arts Press and his short story collection, Interrogations, Fomite Press (Spring 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Martin Ott

    Thanks for the thoughtful review. Glad you enjoyed the book.

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    It sounds good, and I really like the cover!