The Catalog of Small Contentments
by Carolyn Martin
Scheduled Release Date: Aug 15, 2021
In her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments, Carolyn Martin celebrates the aesthetic she has embraced for decades. It is found in Sting’s comment, “All my life I have tried to find the truth and make it beautiful.”
These delightfully accessible poems sparkle with beauty as they revel in truths inspired by a host of poets, artists, and philosophers from Billy Collins and Mary Oliver to Teilhard de Chardin and Claude Monet; from Virginia Wolf and Maggie Smith to Henry James and Joan Miró.
They also draw beautiful truths from the natural world that surrounds the poet. Feral cats, squirrels, Steller’s jays, slugs, moles, and maple trees appear throughout the collection. Even an errant fly and spider earn lessons on how to survive in an unfriendly world.
Finally, Martin’s obsession with unique words inundates these poems. Words like anatidaephobia, hypnopedia, superannuation, blamestorming, and funemployed offer readers the opportunity to enjoy the poet’s wordplay while expanding their own vocabulary.
Whether she’s chatting with an antic ant or pondering Monet’s myopia, Martin is committed to the small contentments that fill her days and inhabit these poems.
Carolyn Martin’s The Catalog of Small Contentments suggests how we can find sanity in what we see in our gardens, poetry books, or the night school of sleeplessness and dreams. Whatever is close by, including feral cats. She notices the spider on her windshield and writes with a robust sense of humor which hits perfect notes in her laugh-out-loud proverbs. Her serious side pays homage to influences as diverse as Billy Collins, Basho, Marx, and Bette Davis. We witness her gentle compassion when she reads obituaries and shares the loss of loved ones. Martin’s fans might include other poets, mystics, birdwatchers, retired folks, and those open to learning a new word a day (she provides an addendum to explain.) Boiling it down, these poems are for people who wonder about the place of humans in the universe on days that begin with a look out the window.
—Tricia Knoll, author of Checkered Mates
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