The art of writing #86 : Joshua Martin


How did you first come to poetry? What is it about the form that resonates?

I first came to poetry in high school, when I was looking for something completely different from what my life was at the time. It was all a part of my larger discovery of the artistic world, particularly of alternative forms of thinking, living, and creating. Poetry seems to me to be one of the best forms for liberating the mind from the conformity of materialistic and consumerist culture. There's an obscurity to poetic expression that is both fascinating and full of possibilities. The very act of writing poetry in this day and age seems contrary to everything about contemporary culture.

How does a poem begin?

Words come to me when my mind is free to wander. When certain lines or images pop into my head that I find compelling, I'll write them down and let whatever flows from this starting point just happen. Because of this, the poems are often written quickly, in an almost improvisational manner, free from preconceived notions, relying on instinct, the sounds of words, the way a poem appears on the page, and a sense of letting the pieces be as wild and free-flowing as possible.

Do you see your writing as a single, extended project, or a series of threads that occasionally weave together to form something else?

If I really think about it, I'd have to say my work is more of a series of threads than one single project. Since my methods are constantly evolving to suit my frame of mind, interests, and each individual project, it makes more sense for me to think of my writing in fragmentary terms, weaving in and out of certain modes, processes, styles, and approaches. I prefer leaving the work open-ended, as this allows for more play and experimentation. I don't believe I could ever remain beholden to an overarching project or method. I find a certain amount of malleability and flexibility are necessary for my explorations.

Have you a daily schedule by which you work, or are you working to fit this in between other activities?

I don't have any kind of daily schedule or routine for writing. I hardly ever just sit down to write a poem. Partly, this comes from only being able to dedicate a limited amount of time to writing, having a full-time job, but also because I think I write better when I let the poems happen organically, instead of trying to force the process. Because of this, my poems are written anywhere and at any time, typically jotted down in notebooks or on scraps of paper or whatever else I can find. The work becomes a part of my daily life in the sense that they either happen or they don't, wherever and whenever.

What are your favourite print or online literary journals?

There are so many great journals out there, especially ones focused on what we might call experimental or avant-garde or underground writing. I love Otoliths, Do Not Submit!, Moss Trill, experiential-experimental-literature, Version (9), Synapse, Unlikely StoriesMark V, dadakuku, D.O.R., Rasputin, Var(2x), Die Leere Mitte, and Black Stone / White Stone to name a few.

Who are some of the writers you are reading lately that most excite you?

I'm always excited by the work of my fellow madmen at C22, Nathan Anderson, Lachlan J. McDougall, and Vernon Frazer. I've been reading Rose Knapp's latest book Discotheque Renaissance and Daniel J. Flosi's chapbook Cries, the Midnight Sky, which are both great and worth multiple readings. I've also been digging pretty deeply into the work of Clark Coolidge and Kathy Acker.



Joshua Martin is a Philadelphia based writer and filmmaker, who currently works in a library. He is member of C22, an experimental writing collective. He is the author most recently of the books Dance of Resistance Brainwaves (C22 Press), SCHISMS (C22 Press Open Editions), laminated tongue in aspic (Alien Buddha Press) and automatic message (Free Lines Press). He has had numerous pieces published in various journals including Otoliths, Synapse, Version (9), Don’t Submit!, BlazeVOX, RASPUTIN, Ink Pantry, Unlikely Stories Mark V, and experiential-experimental-literature. You can find links to his published work at

A selection of his work appeared in the ninth issue.