Small Human Detail in Care of National Trust
“In line after line, Martin Walls’ each small human detail is so restlessly brilliant that it leaves even his angel short of breath. After all, this poet knows how to ‘flirt with the world.’ But guided by his open concealments and, at times, humor, one willingly goes, in care of him, all the way to the door of the sea which he so magically cracks open.”
—Agha Shahid Ali
“Small Human Detail in Care of National Trust is a terrific first book by a diversely-gifted young poet––part romantic naturalist and part political scold, throughout a believer in a ‘theology of the particular.’ Reading these poems I find myself marveling at the way Martin Walls brings his incisive, historical intelligence to bear on the humblest of landscapes; not only can he mobilize a cinematically global range of poetic reference––from Basho to Vallejo, Oppen to Plath––but he knows how to zoom in the focus on images as evanescent as his dragonfly with ‘wings salvaged from the skeletons of willow leaves.’ ‘Salvage’ is no idle word in this book. Martin Walls is a writer who seeks to save what is necessary not only from the ravages of time, but from the sociohistorical forces in whose trust we are all, willing or unwilling, held.”
“In fact, I simply love this work––its intelligence, its grace and patience and surprise, its ‘small human detail’ which nevertheless enlarges the world. Martin Walls’ poems have the stillness and depth of genuine meditations, be they about wrecking yards or cicadas, great aunts or x-rays, the Wabash River or the poor lost soul who throws himself before a train while the town fills up with the corn refinery’s ‘sweet-sick smell of syrup.’ That syrup in there––to feel the sadness in such a thing. . . What I mean is––this is a poet you can trust with the whole terrible and lovely business.”
Martin Walls was born in Brighton, England and now lives in Baldwinsville, New York with his wife, Christine, and son Alexander. A US Library of Congress Witter Bynner Fellow, he is the author of three books of poems: Small Human Detail in Care of National Trust (New Issues, 2000), Commonwealth(March Street, 2005), and TheSolvay Process (Tiger Bark, 2009). In addition, Walls edits the “online anthology” The Book of Snails, a collection of poetry and science writing.
Walls’ poetry has been published in The Nation, The Ohio Review, Salt Hill, Epoch, The Gettysburg Review, Boulevard, Five Points, Kestrel, Blackbird, Commonweal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the University of East Anglia, England, and Purdue University, from which he holds an M.F.A. degree.
In Syracuse he was a journalist and editor at Eagle Newspapers, where he founded the Solvay-Geddes Express newspaper. As a senior editor at Bentley-Hall, Inc., he helped found Making Music, a magazine for amateur musicians. Walls also edited International Musician for the American Federation of Musicians. Since 2007, Walls has been Communications Manager at the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems and the Syracuse University Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development.
Walls’ collaboration with photographer Philip MacCabe and graphic designer Shadric Toop can be found atsmallhumandetail.com.