Ten Thousand Selves
Author: Chloe Martinez
Publisher: The Word Works (2021)
"'Don't tell it like a story. It will sound too beautiful,' warns the worldly speaker of this assured and expansive debut. These multi-layered lyrics tell stories in abundance—of emperors, peacocks, pre-school drop-offs, falling snow—but their logic is mandala-like, rather than linear. Instead of onward towards meaning, they lead us inward towards mystery. Martinez understands the power of story to transmute experience into knowledge, and the power of poetry to question story's power. Her scope is global, her vision historical, and her voice—by turns tender, sardonic, full of rage or humbled awe—is eloquently contemporary. Here is a book that presses back against reality. 'Not a story, not an image. It is a map.'"
"Chloe Martinez's gorgeous new collection Ten Thousand Selves immerses us in a complicated poetic in which the geographies of the self are transposed and transformed by the geographies of the external world. Sometimes those metamorphic spaces are built out of mythologies and atlas pages. Other times, they're made from city sidewalks, pop songs, and swallowtails. But however they come about, the selves in these beautifully wrought poems are wide-eyed in their wisdoms and whole-hearted in their songs. In poem after poem, they show the myriad possibilities in our extraordinary and surprising lives."