Belle Fox-Martin’s ‘Stone Pears’ blends poetry, micro-stories in a refreshing, unexpected collection
Great Barrington — “Stone Pears,” the newest collection of poetry by Belle Fox-Martin, is rife with allusions to spirituality and nature and the space in which the two often collide. Many of the poems in the slim, black volume hinge on the transition inherent to myriad seasons, from the literal to figurative. “In the late of September/good grief rises/with the Winter Rye” is the trio of lines that begins the poem, “In the Late.” Within her collection, Fox-Martin touches on those auspicious moments that mark the end of months, the change of seasons and the passage of time. Overwhelmingly, the speaker is female — one who exudes a pervasive tone of sorrow, evidenced by lines like, “The children/never conceived/are causing a ruckus” and “She was the keeper of the bitter and the sweet, the peril, the panic, the flood that closed with an olive branch.”
“On sorrow floats laughter” is the quotation by Gunter Grass—used by Fox-Martin as a preface of sorts—to inform the reader as to the inherent dichotomy present in her work. “I think that what ties my writing together is summarized in the quote,” she said, noting her hope that they “all share the exquisite bitter/sweet of life.” This theme, not necessarily by way of the poet’s intention, reveals what Fox-Martin calls “a product of who I am.” The work in “Stone Pears,” ranging from nature poems to spiritual poems to glib micro-stories, “is grouped not so much for the ease of the reader but rather to surprise/awaken/jar the reader in their not being able to anticipate the mood of the poems or stories one from the next.” Which, from the reader’s perspective, is spot on.
Perhaps what is most refreshing about this collection is the sheer unexpected nature of what each ensuing turn of the page will bring. “The disquieting peace of God/is October air thick with what summer was,/is what may still take breath/on the other side of tomorrow,” she writes in “Peace.” In an excerpt from “Good Friday,” the poet makes grief tangible in her description of “Here we pull the garment of our losses/tight around our shoulders not knowing/if the sun will ever rise another day.” And in the slender volume’s title poem, “Stone Pears,” the speaker ruminates on “stone pears [sitting] in a mere of red wine and sugar reduced to a claret of forebearers,” a potent string of words that reduces the flavors of that moment with such potency the reader can nearly taste them. This is no accident. “Just as a good poem is revealed by what is between the words,” explains the poet, “so is the relationship of the work revealed between the turning of the pages to discover something markedly different from the page before.”
“Belle Fox-Martin is a writer and poet like no other,” said Joan Embree, author of “You and Your Stories” and “Summer of the Stolen Dog,” citing the poet’s work as “singular in its range from literary realism to the absurd, from satire to a gentle reverence for nature and all its creatures.” Perhaps Embree’s greatest compliment comes in her deeming Fox-Martin’s writings as “vivid and original…[with] each of her creations bearing witness to the majesty of life itself.”
Fox-Martin has been called, “a multi-talented Berkshire treasure” by Allison Stokes, who lauded her as “a gifted thinker, poet, and writer [whose] collection of most recent work will—as always—delight and surprise.” The public is invited to attend the official launch of “Stone Pears” Friday, Oct. 19, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Lauren Clark Fine Art.
Fox-Martin lives in Glendale, also known as the fashionable west side of Stockbridge, with her wife and three dogs. She has been a United Church of Christ minister, gallery owner, theater producer, substance abuse specialist, less-than-fine artist, wind energy surveyor, impromptu installation artist and a very unskilled bartender. Her poetry and micro-stories have found their way into the Christian Science Monitor, Sojourners, the Berkshire Edge, and Christianity and the Arts as well as myriad other literary publications. “Stone Pears” and her previous collection, “Misplaced Day,” are available at the Bookloft and through amazon.com.