Taken from the Foreword of In Idled Stacks: A Collection of Poetry, Haiku, and Affirmations, “Robert’s words wound around my heart taking me on a journey through the poetic, the prosaic, the mysterious, the mundane…the list goes on. In every tiny crevice of life, Robert finds wonder, lessons to be learned, puzzles to be pondered, joy, laughter and love.” Those words, written by Martin’s best friend Janet McMahan, ring true to the spirit of the collection of poems presented, and we’re fortunate to have gotten the chance to speak with Robert about his work, passions, and what’s coming down the line.
Where did you find the inspiration for this piece?
To be honest, I didn’t. It kind of found me. When I was laid off due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I started to read through all my old writing. I opened various journals and documents scattered through my apartment and hard drives and found hundreds of poems that have just been sitting around in idled stacks. I started to notice a theme in my life: when times get difficult, I struggle, then rise. That’s what I was going through, and I wanted the chance to speak to others through my poetry about dark days, and bright days, and all the days in between that we don’t give thanks for enough. I didn’t find inspiration for the piece; it gave me inspiration to rise up.
How does this project compare to previous works?
This is my first collection of poetry. I’ve always loved writing free verse poetry and haiku, but I’ve never actually put anything together. My previous works have always been so focused on theatre and presenting a particular angle to a difficult story. I had just finished writing and revising Lithium and Xanax and All of My Friends when I was laid off, and that was such a dark play to write. With this poetry collection I tried to include series of haiku that really spoke to the common everyday beauty around us to keep my soul bright through a dark time.
What’s your favorite part or piece in this work?
That’s like asking me which is my favorite child! Each poem represents a thought or moment in my life, so they’re all dear to me. I will say, writing I See It There Just Ahead of Me, the five-part epic scattered throughout the book gave me so much strength and encouragement during some of my darkest days. I was fortunate that my writing partner had a lot of free time and she and I would jump on Zoom and just spend hours each day writing. We’d pick a topic or create our own, and this epic was the combination of about 5 days of writing and developing the theme, and I really like how it turned out and the story it told.
What do you hope your readers get out of this book?
I hope my readers see that there’s beauty in pain, and pain in beauty. I hope they see that there’s light and dark moments and we have to continue to fight through the pain. I also hope my readers can take simple situations and objects and begin to see the beauty in them.
How has the response been so far?
So far, the response has been fantastic! I’ve gotten some great reviews, and some interesting feedback. I think every author is prepared to hear that some people aren’t over the moon about their work, and I admit that during this book I touched on some sensitive subjects involving politics that present my views in certain light, and that’s not been received as well by some, but that’s how it goes sometimes!
What’s next for you? What are you currently working on?
Oh goodness, a lot! I’m currently working on another poetry collection, Poems of Political Protest: A Lefty’s Literal Liberal Leaning and I’m very excited about it. Also working on a poetry collection surrounding Van Gogh’s works (if you couldn’t tell by reading the book, I love Van Gogh’s work), as well as a few plays. With the world kind of hitting the reset button, now’s the best time to get back into the creative mode and get going!
Robert Martin’s In Idled Stacks: A Collection of Poetry, Haiku, and Affirmations was published through City Limits Publishing on July 22, 2020. You can order the new poetry book of 2020 via its website, Amazon, Kindle, and other digital platforms.