Reading the poetry of Martine Bellen is an excursion into a fascinating labyrinth of language that evokes multiple meanings. Her work is more to be experienced with the heart than dissected with the mind.
Her latest poetry collection is The Wabac Machine — with reference both to the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, as well as to the past iterations of the internet. Fellow poet Charles North wrote:
Martine Bellen’s psychological and linguistic adventures in poetry are unlike anyone else’s. Celebrating the instabilities of our experience, her poems maneuver kaleidoscopically between ordinary life and myth or fairy tale, vital human concerns such as identity and dreamlike atmospheres where nothing stays as it appears for long. Her “host of unlikely divinities” display a reality that is never ordinary, always evocative.
Bellen is the author of eight collections of poetry including Tales of Murasaki and Other Poems, which won the National Poetry Series Award; as well as the novella 2X(Squared) and several librettos for opera. Bellen is a contributing editor of the literary journal Conjunctions.
A Zen practitioner, Bellen says there is an intimate connection between Zen Buddhism and poetry — a connection that informs her work. She explores that connection more deeply in the unabridged version of our conversation.