Review: Climbing Out of Other People’s Hands by Ian Martin

You really can’t go wrong with a poet who has a good sense of humour. Ian Martin is one of my favourite poets, and his 2016 chapbook Climbing Out of Other People’s Hands just proves that I’m right. Martin’s work always treads the careful line between pathos and dry humour, bringing the surreal just that little too close to home.

Really, I don’t know anybody else who could make me smile so much at a poem called “Archive of Google Searches From August 2013”.

is there anything inside my body worth keeping safe
utilitarian body modifications
heart shaped box
literal heart-shaped box  -nirvana

It’s the kind of poem that relates directly to the current mismatch we’re living in; technology that can give us anything we want in a rapidly destabilizing world where ‘what we want’ is never so simple. Also, it’s funny.

Climbing out of Other People’s Hands is almost all poetry, except for one flash fiction in the middle, a short and strange story about a princess dreaming of a 2010 Honda Accord. I think my favourite piece, however, has to be ‘Beauty in The Hand of the Beholder’. It’s the centerpiece of the chapbook, and with good reason – it unfolds over a full page spread, printed sideways, narrowing to a wasp-thin waist at the crease before expanding outwards again. It’s a simple but incredibly effective use of the chapbook format and image poetry, and the verse itself is piercingly honest.

your hands were cupped together; a globe
with holes. i crawled inside, because you
made it seem soo inviting. i think i was
maybe drunk. i use that excuse a lot.

Ian Martin’s poetry is always a joy, and this is one of my favourites, one that I keep returning to or remembering. This chapbook and others are available at his website!

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