The Venezuelan-born, native Spanish-speaking David Martin came to the U.S. in 1995 at the age of 20 in order to learn English. The son of a Venezuelan mother and an American father, he found that writing the poems in Within: The Source of My Words was the most effective path to building his vocabulary and expressing his feelings. In his brief introduction, he describes learning English as an “arduous struggle” and that this collection is his “take on beauty and the truth as [he] see[s] it.”
Readers who are looking for poems set in South America or that incorporate bits of Spanish should look elsewhere. Martin includes only one poem, “Motherland,” that explicitly describes his feelings for where he grew up, albeit in mostly abstract terms along the lines of “Nostalgia consumes my thoughts.” He adds a minimum of landscape description – “the grandeur of your eternal cascading waterfalls” – but includes no details or specific names of places.
Martin’s most energetic poems include the nature poem “Unemotional Winter,” which crackles with imagery such as: “white sudden mantle” and “awe-stricken red robin” and “unkind cold shortly fallows.” In addition, some of his many love poems, such as “A Brave Heart,” employ lively comparisons, as when he describes a lover’s rejection as a “blunt malicious strike” and a “Well-placed sucker punch.”
Ultimately, Within has too many stock phrases, such as, “You are the brightest star in my sky” and “I wear my heart / On my sleeve,” to attract sophisticated poetry readers, though it might draw some interest for its exuberant embrace of love and nature.
Also available as an ebook.