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Distributed for Omnidawn Publishing, Inc.


1st Edition

Within the visual arts of painting and photography, Martha Ronk finds an undeniable presence lurking: silence. This character slips into pauses, hides between images, and expertly evades the grasp of language. Ronk shows us that what is hidden just off screen in these images might just be the force that gives them power. The poems in Silences seek possibilities of how to form language from a phenomenon that so earnestly resists it. Rather than coax silence out of hiding, Ronk’s poems respond to its mysterious presence through questions and conjecture.

These poems endeavor to give a much-deserved voice to silence, addressing the power of what is not seen. While silence remains perpetually out of reach, Ronk invites us to follow the language that creeps up to its edges. The poems in this collection form an inquiry that moves through the presence of silence and reveals insights into the character of the visual art in which it lives.

80 pages | 1 halftone | 6 x 9 | © 2019


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“Ronk has always sharply angled her gaze toward the world’s unlikely phenomena, revealing and reveling in the heat she detects underneath. In Silences she searches for and settles in pauses, stops, breaks, in-between spaces . . . She takes inspiration from, and writes about, great artists of interstitial spaces, such as Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Rene Magritte, Mark Rothko, and Vincent van Gogh, and meditations on the practice of ekphrastic art. . . . Ronk gets as close as one can, in these new poems, to dancing on the pinhead of now.”

Craig Morgan Teicher, author of We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress

“These poems seek, in humble and honest ways, all that falls back into, or refuses to emerge from, the inexpressible rooted silently inside the givens of our lives—not to break the secret open, but more simply, more wondrously, to admit it’s there. Such poems return us to art’s fundamental courage: to note where facts and knowledge fray into the unknown from which they were first woven, and to ask those questions that end beyond the end of the poem.”

Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Of Silence and Song


2019 Big Other Book Award for Poetry

"About halfway through her newest collection, Ronk...presents an essay that explains as well as evokes the deep silence that is the subject of these intricate metaphysical poems. A 'National Poetry' series winner for Vertigo, Ronk here describes Arcata, CA, a place enveloped in silence and fog caused by a coastal upwelling of ocean water. Those conditions inspire Ronk’s themes and an 'upwelling' of the images, metaphors, free association, and word play in these poems. Suggesting the scope of her book, Ronk notes, 'Silence isn’t an opposite. It’s a thing in itself on which blackbirds…and undefined voices scrawl shapes'...That voice echoes mysteriously through this book, commenting on the various types of silence, whether found at the end of a line in prose or poetry after turning a page or while looking at a work of art. Ronk includes ekphrastic poems that find words for paintings—often called silent poems."

Library Journal

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