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Winner of the 2011 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions, Ltd.:

"The Stick Soldiers"

Praise for The Stick Soldiers

This is as good as first books get… the idea that poetry can invest and transport in terms of an unlikely experience is now almost lost. Nineteenth century readers of poetry would queue up for blocks in front of the book-stalls of London publishers. Please now look at the games our children play off computer screens and ask, How can war be an unlikely experience for anyone in our culture? Hugh Martin has an answer for us.
                              --Norman Dubie

I am glad and made better by having Hugh Martin’s version of the war in these poems, especially for their unabashed intimacy.  But they are more importantly brilliantly muted poems, illustrative of the dullness that overcomes most soldiers in war; a necessary numbing of the senses that allows the temporary survival of trauma.  To accomplish this difficult task and take on the responsibility of speaking for the dead and the maimed demands a finely tuned and selfless sense of craft, and that is abundant in these poems as well, with the poet’s subtle regard for a wide variety of figures of speech powerfully driven by the facts of war.  Overall The Stick Soldiers is a wonderfully unconscious account of the terrible transformative power of war; poem by poem it is a sharply focused consideration of the place of our humanness in war.  This is the poetry of witness in its finest and most genuine form and it is, whether we like it or not, necessary for our survival.
                                --Bruce Weigl
Here’s eleven months worth of sawdust and sweat, dear reader. Somehow, Hugh Martin has wrung poetry from a scab, and now, the full shock and beauty and mystery of the things of war that won’t let go will stick to you.
                             --Cornelius Eady

Winner of the 2008 Wick Student Chapbook Competition:

"So, How Was the War?"

Praise for So, How Was the War?

Hugh Martin’s poems navigate the psychological terrain of war and its aftereffects. They offer insights into the soldier’s journey—filled with visions of sand storms and beheadings and hashish, ziplock bags full of Lifesavers given to Iraqi children. These poems also study the war that veterans carry home—to the surreal landscape of the Atlanta airport, pawn shops and liquor stores and Sharky’s Gentlemen’s Club, the bedrooms in the suburbs of America. Martin’s poems stand as a reminder that within the anonymity of the uniform there lives a human being.
                                                                  --Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet

Hugh Martin’s poems are a deceptively cool jazz structure of survival by observation, and they reach us, or rather reach into us: they come in through doors that human beings keep leaving open but which we wish they would close.  Intimate and public both, Martin’s are the beginnings of the next generation of poems that carry difficult news in them, poems born from the now new-century wars.  Simply calling these efforts war poems is a mistake, in that they push beyond war and rise to the level of human connection, as the best war poems so often do.  There is substance here, even and especially when it tells us that war—horrible as it often is, and boring as it mostly is—has not yet found the tools to teach us.  Or else, we do not have the tools to listen.  One speaker, in fact, has to remind himself, “this is real.  This is real.”  As these poems demonstrate, we would do well to remind ourselves as well.
                                                                   --Alberto Rios

These precise, plain-spoken poems are limned by a subtle music, not tomention a lyric grace that is never over-played.  For in a world as harsh as this one, a world delimited by war, beauty is as appalling as it is necessary.  Hugh Martin’s great achievement is to remind us of this necessity, and to assert the power of poetry as witness and as solace.  This is an extraordinary and important collection.  
                                                                     --James Harms

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