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Poets of the Monterey Bay

cover The Meaning of Wings

Poems by Joanna Martin

Joanna Martin

Praise for The Meaning of Wings:

“Joanna Martin’s The Meaning of Wings is a unique and deeply satisfying book.   The nursing poems at the core of the collection are especially moving.  A nurse by profession, Martin deals daily with the bodies and souls of the dying and the drowned—those clinging to life and those addicted.  Here, she offers us a nurse’s-eye view of blood, grit, corpses, prayers, miracles.  ‘You would never guess how many deaths/ she still has/ to witness.’  But good poetry is built of surprises as when one terminal patient surprises even Martin: ‘you turn into wings/ and sing… / you sing/ for us.’  And, inspired, Martin sings as well—of the daily miracle of living: passing a stranger on the street, waiting in line at the bank—hiking with her beloved father whose presence frames the volume (‘He haloed me under/ for a brief, winged time’), settling in under her lover’s coat ‘like wings folding over my shoulders,’ or just reading a good book on a stormy winter morning—‘everything centers/ becomes itself/ and then becomes/ itself/ again.’  Martin’s poems search and trace her own becoming.   She is most often meditative, philosophical—sometimes feminist and political—always sensuous—ultimately, movingly grateful and compassionate.   And Martin’s love and erotic poems are delightful as are her very funny poems of ‘Middle Aged Dating’ or a ‘Third Date’—gone not so well.  This book has an impressive variety of strengths.  I’m sure you will agree that with this publication, poet Joanna Martin has found—has earned—her wings.”
         —Ken Weisner, author of The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians.

“Joanna Martin’s day job—she’s a nurse—perfectly fits her to take us places ordinary mortals rarely see.  She shows us life and death from an insider’s perspective.   It’s a stunning view, both subtle and brutal but ultimately uplifting.”
         —Debra Spencer, poet.

The Meaning of Wings is a beautiful book, full of love and the grief that love hands us.  Everything she writes of is treated with respect, even reverence, whether it’s her bond with her father, the preparation of a corpse in the hospital morgue, or the grief of angels.  On the third reading I still emit gasps of recognition and get goose bumps.”
         —Len Anderson, author of Affection for the Unknowable.

Joanna Martin received her BA in Literature and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a nursing degree from Chabot College in Hayward.  She is a mother of two and has been a nurse for 17 years at Dominican Hospital, where she has worked for eight years in Cardiac Care.  She started writing poetry 15 years ago and has been active in writing groups and reading her work in the Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay areas.  Her work has been published in Porter Gulch Review and Quarry West.  She is a winner of the Mary Lonnberg Smith Poetry Award.

The Meaning of Wings by Joanna Martin
112 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-4-2

Poems by Joanna Martin


Copyright 2006