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In the Garden of the Bridehouse
By J. Michael Martinez
104 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / 2014
Paper (978-0-8165-3089-2)
  - Camino del Sol

Related Interest
  - Poetry
  - Latina and Latino Studies

Through lyrical procedures of self-immolation, this brave new collection by J. Michael Martinez interrogates the sundry roles language, myth, and sexuality play for the self and the other in the
Martinez offers intimate, introspective looks inside his speakers while simultaneously casting a critical eye across culture, history, and identity politics. Truly a collection to be digested in full measure.


Poems scatter across the page in starburst shape, with fragments often disconnected spatially and syntactically. Pay attention, though, and you'll hear the music (some of the poems are even musical scores) and see the glowing, tactile beauty in these intensive pieces.

—Library Journal

Martinez has essentially raised the bar for both the learned writer and the learned reader.

—Rigoberto González, author of Red-Inked Retablos

A precarious altar. A mythopoeic, fractal grafting. In the Garden of the Bridehouse reseeds myths, languages, Americas.

—Joe Hall, author of The Devotional Poems

Martinez enlivens gender configurations, surpassing male-female dualities of natural and cultural conception, to construct a psychological space: an architecture of creation.

—Roberto Tejada, author of Full Foreground

Self-portraits as anima, time-travel, wounded swans, In the Garden of the Bridehouse is a mutilated garden of Eden, one that more accurately represents our gender fractures, our material desires, our fall, and our arrival as song.

—Andrea Rexilius, author of Half of What They Carried Flew Away

recoverable and irrecoverable past. Parallel to his award-winning first collection Heredities, J. Michael Martinez pushes the boundaries of poetic form, wedding historically oppositional lyrical traditions to deliver a collection unlike any other.

Turning the page into a visual field, as in the deconstructed musical score telling the tale of La Llorona, In the Garden of the Bridehouse questions the line between visual art and poetry. The work employs the vernacular, the stylized language of theory, and the blank canvas of the page in its exploration of the known and unknowable.

Throughout the work, Martinez paradoxically exercises both a lyrical minimalism and a baroque poetic, uniting Mesoamerican preconquest imaginary with the sensuality of the Biblical Song of Songs, cultivating a lyrical space wherein contrasting potentials are—as one—realized in their shared promise.

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