The Hippo


Apr 18, 2019








Don Wellman and Rodger Martin 

Where: Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord 
When: Wed., Jan. 17, 7 p.m. 
More info:,

The language of poetry
Poetry Society of NH poets read in Concord

By Angie Sykeny

 Between his love for travel and his upbringing in a military family, Don Wellman has visited and lived in countries all over the world, including Germany, Mexico and Spain. When he started writing poetry in the late ’60s shortly after graduating from college, he found himself revisiting those cultures, both for subject matter for his own writing and to explore how international poetry relates to English poetry. 

Wellman continues to write what he calls transcultural poetry, which is featured in his latest book of poetry, Essay Poems, released in November. 
“I love this sense of being connected to world poetry as much as I am to local poetry,” Wellman said. “I’ve always been drawn to writing poetry where the language and cultural references of several cultures are mixed together. It creates new concepts and new ways of thinking about things.”
Wellman will read poetry from the new book during a visit to Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord on Wednesday, Jan. 17, where he will be joined by fellow Poetry Society of New Hampshire member Rodger Martin, who will also read some of his own work. 
Essay Poems consists of nine long and 24 short serial poems (poems that are dependent on each other to be fully expressed) that cover various topics and intermix elements of the Spanish, Latin, German and French languages.   
“It’s elusive poetry; it goes in and out of many different things — masculinity, politics, philosophy, lives of poets who have passed,” Wellman said. “No one poem is complete. It requires a string of poems, and that string requires multiple interweavings, which can only be seen with a close reading of the poem.” 
The inspiration for Wellman’s poetry, he said, comes from a combination of his vivid dreams, which he records, literature he is reading or has read, and philosophical concepts. 
“I read through my notebook to see if there are any connections between the notes I’ve taken about real-life things and the notes I’ve taken about my dreams,” he said. “It’s a building process. I try to thread things together and construct something bigger based on those threads.” 
Rodger Martin’s work also deals with international poetry. His new book, For All the Tea in Zhōngguó, due out this spring, includes his English translations of Mandarin poetry, and his own poetry translated into Mandarin. Martin worked for three years to produce the book, in collaboration with a Mandarin translator. 
“There’s so much about the language [of a poem] that is central to getting that emotional impact across effectively, and when you translate the poem into another language, you lose some of that,” he said. “My goal is to do translations that recreate that original sound and imagery, and to recapture the essence of the poem and its original power in the new language.” 
His mission with For All The Tea in Zhōngguó, Martin said, is to inspire people to be more open to “horizons of poetry beyond their shores,” and to help reshape the way people think about poetry in the U.S.” 
“It amazes me that Americans have no concept of how powerful poetry is in the rest of the world,” he said. “I hope that over time we’ll come to appreciate poetry more in this country.” 
Martin plans to read at least one of the poems from the forthcoming book as well as some poems from his previous published books of poetry: The Battlefield Guide, which explores Civil War battlefields and what they mean for America today, and The Blue Moon Series, a collection of 14 poems, one for each of the full moons in the complete lunar cycle. 
“I always get chills when I see a full moon come up all huge over the horizon. How can you not be moved by that?” he said. “And with poetry and the beauty of language itself, I have the ability to get that emotional depth across quickly and intensely.”

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