Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Poetry Places

Kink Bands

by (author) David Martin

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
Places, Canadian, Nature
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


In his second book of poems, David Martin digs deep into an examination of the world using the lens of geology. With lyrically experimental poems expanding and retracting, this collection finds sonic and conceptual energy from the perspective of deep time and the geological forces that have shaped and continue to shape the Earth. Enacting seismic shifts, catastrophes, and erosions throughout the natural and cultural worlds, Martin's poetic practice pushes forward to contend with the contemporary environmental changes and the structure of the Anthropocene that affect how we live in the twenty-first century. The collection veers from the Rocky Mountains and explorations of "fossilized" towns to family histories and myth-soaked theories, all while seeking a balance between disruptive poetic techniques and the centred lyrical voice.

About the author

David Martin was born and raised in Calgary, where he lives with his wife and children. His poetry has been awarded the CBC Poetry Prize, shortlisted for the Vallum Award for Poetry and PRISM international's poetry contest, and published in many journals and magazines across Canada. He is an instructor at The Reading Foundation, one of the organizers for Calgary's Single Onion poetry reading series, and the frontman for an indie-pop group, The Fragments. His debut book, Tar Swan, is a part of the Crow Said Poetry series.

David Martin's profile page

Excerpt: Kink Bands (by (author) David Martin)

Turner Valley Oil Field

They trotted out his anticline,

capstone crust punctured

by a wedge-thrust to the town's

makeover bonanza, where

seismic pricks could plot

secured flab, and flatter him

under talk-show sunlight.

Yet look at the after shot:

Devonian shell-sweat is

girdled by a deer-head buckle,

his footwall has lead foot

in a King Cab, and during

apotheosis to carbon cloud

his Nudie suit will blacken

at dusk, sloughing sequins

over our sweet, crude sleep.

Elk Crossing

Trapped in river's cage.

Tantrum of endless present.

Foam nooses my neck,

bone boughs seeking rim.

My eyes urge herd to heave

off winter locks, burrowing

in liquid cell's hunger.

Don't yield to fetters:

you'll tread lives of reflection

ending with boulder mirrors.

Prison edge, my lunges pry

open a gap in last gasps.

Hinge-leap fores and backs

into montane's gusty probation

and a grey jay's applause.

Styled under snow's welter,

pine stumps, blade whiskers

are charmed in brush rubble;

these guards aloof to hooves

shaking off annual sentences.

Kootenay Group

This outcrop chops logic:

a blender of interbedded

shale and silt smuggled in

glacial meal is exhumed

by clastic talking cures.

Hairpinning rube-seams

fist bump mudstone squatters

chugging oh-two brews,

while boho aspens snort

coal to cook up a scree

of showboating fancy-Dans.

En route to a cirque's scoop,

a lamp house stockpiles slag.

Moss plots cement's nap,

reclaiming dimpled vugs:

sphagnum beards hum here.


Editorial Reviews

Praise for David Martin...

"Through its daring, and brilliantly challenging, use of diction, syntax and imagery, it embodies the best of contemporary experimental verse. Tar Swan urgently speaks to central concerns of our time, particularly here in Canada: the consequences of coal and oil extraction, environmental degradation, and our responsibility to the natural world." --CBC Poetry Prize Citation

"Martin explores...myths in gritty, sensual, and historically vivid language. This ambitious debut immerses us in the tar of archaeology and the bite of our own environmental dilemma." --2019 Raymond Souster Award Jury Citation (shortlisted)

"This is a remarkable collection..." --Anne Burke, The Prairie Journal

"This book is a wild ride, chilling at times though leavened with dark humour." --Sid Marty, Alberta Views

"Martin's complex collection criticizes the hubristic development of the tar sands and unearths fixed forms to reckon with environmental change." --Kait Pinder, Canadian Literature

"Martin's Tar Swan illuminates the degradation of the non-human and human world in four fictive voices bound by a specific thematic and historical period.... this work quickens." --Deanna Radford, ARC Poetry Magazine

Related lists