Martin’s History Review by Anna Yin
Beret Days Press, 2013, 20pp
I.S.B.N. 978-1-897497-87-6 $10
Martin’s History is a beautiful tribute from poet Bunny Iskov to her brother. It is the story of an ordinary person who manages his life and his conflicts. The clever thing is, the poet puts her emotions away and uses simple direct verses to tell these stories leaving room for us to fill with our own opinions and emotions. I was simply touched and surprised that I had built a bond toward Martin after a second reading. From the first poem Martin’s Childhood, Bunny set the tone of the difficult life Martin endured and managed to explore the world in his own way starting by enjoying toy guns: “Resentment fell into a tiny place in Martin’s history./Only guns remain his source of joy”. There are some tragedies although we are not told the details. After Martin settles down in the country, Iskov allows the reader to share his emotional pain and resilience. I especially like the poem: Martin’s Family. It is sharp with dark humor and concise images, such as “Martin’s father is a locked steel door./Nothing can penetrate or move him…/ Martin’s mother is an over-ripe melon… Martin’s children are borrowed books/he reads on windy days,/breezing through pages far too quickly…” I also like the sadness and vulnerability of the hobby farmer Martin in contrast with the indifference from commercial construction which is implied in the poem: Raising Chickens with a Gun. Life is tough. Like the poet, we, readers become an observer absorbing the grief and the silence. In her poem Under a Blind Moon, we might wonder the difference between ghosts, shadows and humans. The ache, the longing, and the need of love and protection I found in this small chapbook that Iskov prepared for her brother is deep and well crafted. To order your copy, sned $12 ($10 + $2 p & h) to I.B. Iskov, #710 – 65 Spring Garden Ave., Toronto, Ont. M2N 6H9.