Dear Mark by Martin Rock

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An ekphrastic work of poetry with a focus on the paintings of Mark Rothko.

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.
-C.G. Jung-

Certain people always say we should go back to nature.
I notice they never say we should go forward to nature.
-Mark Rothko-

Dear Mark
by Martin Rock

Pub Date: July 15, 2013
44 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-936767-19-9

Cover art & interior word art by Aaron Sing Fox; interior assemblages by Martin Rock.

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Mark Rothko’s paintings have the aura of the sacred, the immanence of a revelation, the promise of a secret that is always just about to be disclosed. Martin Rock responds to Rothko’s hushed eloquence with his own quick-hitting intimations of mortality, spiritual poems that deftly enter Rothko’s visionary space, his intimate, anguished, violent, and fateful dramas.

Edward Hirsch

DEAR MARK is an unabashed open letter to Rothko’s paintings that pushes past what the rest of us have thought of them. Martin Rock inhabits these paintings and the imagination in exciting and lyrical poems all springing from color and abstraction but ending in the strange and beautiful. Rock reminds us that art goes both ways, and it takes a talented viewer to see what’s there.

Matthew Rohrer

There’s such calm beauty in Martin Rock’s poems. The delicate pace allows us to look, listen, be present. But he’ll lead you into this blissful state, look you straight in the eyes, and tell you “The butterfly’s body is also a urinal cake / with antennae & legs braided into a rope.” He’s a philosopher and soothsayer with a strange sense of humor. “Life is a kind of rust” in his poems. So he looks to the future life, and the past life. Indeed, the poems here are concerned with life—from the primordial soup, to “on the body of a spider / death’s head.” It’s a stunning collection. One I look to for guidance in existence.

Bianca Stone

Interview, American Literary Review with Karl Zuehike

“Martin Rock opens a dialogue with the work of visual artist Mark Rothko, with engaging results.”

“The poems in Dear Mark are careful, beautiful, musical, deft, skilled, and sometimes puzzling, which in poetry is a good thing.”
The Smoking Carillion


Martin Rock is a poet, editor, and teacher living in Brooklyn. He lived in Japan for nearly four years, where he taught elementary and junior high school and studied Japanese. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review; Conduit; DIAGRAM; Forklift, Ohio; H_NGM_N; Third Coast; The Journal, and was included in Best New Poets 2012 and featured recently on the websites Brooklyn Poets and The Bakery. With Philip D. Ischy, he wrote the chapbook Fish, You Bird (Pilot 2010). He has served as Editor in Chief of Washington Square, as Managing Editor of Epiphany, and is currently Editor in Chief of Loaded Bicycle. The recipient of fellowships from New York University, Port Townsend Writers Conference, and University of Houston, he will soon move to Texas to begin a doctoral candidacy in literature and creative writing.

No. 7, Black Form, 1964 on Verse Daily