Award winning poet David Tomas Martinez performed his poetry collection on April 4 in Schwitzer Student Center Trustees Dining Room. Assistant Professor of English Barney Haney began the event by thanking those involved in the Kelloggs Writers Series program and introduced Martinez and his poetry collection.
“David Tomas Martinez’s poems are a shrive of culture and craft,” Haney said. “He questions Mexican masculinity, what is Mexican enough [and] who loves enough. Masculinity is viewed through irony’s lens. ”
Martinez was born and raised in San Diego, Calif. and is the recipient of the 2017 National Endowment of the Arts fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, the Verlaine Poetry Prize and the Stanley P. Young fellowship from Breadloaf, according to his biography.
His poetry collection, “Hustle,” received the New England Book Festival prize in poetry, the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award and $10,000 as an honorable mention from the Antonio Cisneros Del Moral Prize.
In March 2018, Martinez published his second collection of poetry, “Post Traumatic Hood Disorder,” which incorporates themes such as masculinity through his use of alliteration and form.
Martinez read two unpublished poems, “Dad Joke” and “A Letter from DTM,” which encompasses his idea of masculinity being benign and non-toxic.
“[Masculinity] is a big part of “Hustle” and “Post Traumatic Hood Disorder.” I think particularly right now it is important, as a man, to address and investigate what masculinity is,” Martinez said. “I don’t believe in toxic masculinity. I don’t think masculinity is a bad thing but the implementation of masculinity can be harmful when it is used to control or oppress others. It’s [masculinity] benign. I’m not afraid of my masculinity but that doesn’t mean I have to adhere to a strict sense of it [masculinity].”
According to sophomore psychology major Dioneth Salas, hearing Martinez’s performance was a very unique experience. She said that listening to Martinez read his work captured her interest in poetry.
“The reading was very fresh and unique,” Salas said. “Most people don’t speak that informally [with profanity] and it made it to where readers could relate more to his work. I really loved the topics he addressed in his poetry.”
Junior professional writing major Joe Fields said that it was interesting to listen to Martinez read his poetry because it helped create a connection between the written word and the backstory of the poem.
“Hearing Martinez’s inflections and tone throughout his poetry really brought out the story behind the meaning of the poem and [the reading] did it justice,” Fields said. “My favorite poem from Martinez is Fractal [from Post Traumatic Hood Disorder]. It was as if you were looking through a kaleidoscope. He created a cascade of nature, memories and self-reflection. It was extraordinary.”
Both Fields and Salas said that the ability to engage with published authors is important because it gives readers an opportunity to learn more behind the collection of work as well as the author.
“Not many people get to experience that,” Salas said. “Having the Kellogg’s Writers Series on campus is incredibly important because [by] hearing the author talk and explain their work, you are able to understand the true meaning of the work, which could have been interpreted differently than they [the author] intended and not many have that type of opportunity.”
For the last Kellogg’s Writers Series event, the 2018 Whirling Prize winning authors Phillip B. Williams and Alexander Weinstein will read on Wednesday, April 18 on the Krannert Memorial Library second floor at 6:30 p.m.