What: Second Sunday, featuring poet John Martin

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Downtown Bend Library — Brooks Room, 601 NW Wall St.

Cost: free

Contact: deschuteslibrary.org or 541-617-7050

Poet John Martin left Central Oregon 11 months ago to begin a new job as the residency manager at PLAYA, an artists’ retreat near Summer Lake about 100 miles south of Bend. This move marked the start of a series of events that have boosted his creativity and brought about changes in the focus of his writing.

Around the time of the move, Martin learned he had won the Louis Award, a competition organized each year by Concrete Wolf publishing in Tillamook for poets aged 50 or older who have not yet published a full-length poetry collection. Martin’s prize was the publication in July of a collection of his poetry as a full-length book.

Martin will read and discuss selections from that book, “Hold This,” at the Downtown Bend Library on Sunday. He will also read some more recent poems written in over the past year.

“It’s sort of an autobiography in poetry or verse,” Martin said of “Hold This.” “I think of it as a story that takes in all the emotionally important aspects of my life, although it’s not necessarily chronological.”

Martin’s poetry and essays had previously been published in various journals and anthologies, and his chapbook, “The Nick of Time,” was published in 2006.

Much of his verse in “Hold This” uses the imagery of nature and the elements while examining death and its impacts. He also admits to a “preoccupation” with birds, which are featured in many of the poems and also on the cover of the book.

The publication of “Hold This” brought Martin full circle in one chapter of his artistic life.

He was notified the collection would be published just as he was about to begin working at PLAYA.

That also happens to be where he wrote and arranged the first iterations of many of the book’s poems, during a monthlong residency at the facility in 2012.

“Hold This” also includes some older poems dating back to 2005, along with more recent work.

Prior to 2017, Martin’s work was more inwardly focused on his emotional landscape than poetry of place.

However, the physical beauty of his surroundings at Summer Lake has triggered some changes in his writing.

“PLAYA has to some degree pulled me more into the landscape, and maybe I’ve moved a little more from my emotional geography to the external landscape,” Martin said.

The poet, who describes himself as an introvert, also suspects that the requirements of his new job are also encouraging him to look outward more often in his poetry.

As the residency manager at PLAYA, Martin coordinates all the application processes and logistics for the resident artists at the facility, as well as coordinating alumni awareness and communication after they leave.

“I spent 37 years being a landscaper working with rocks and plants and wheelbarrows full of soil, so it’s been really challenging but really rewarding to spend my time talking to people rather than talking to rocks,” Martin said with a laugh.

After living in Bend for 16 years, the move to Summer Lake has been a significant lifestyle change for Martin.

Among the things he misses are the monthly collaborations with his friends and fellow poets in the High Desert Poetry Cell and another writers’ group he’s a member of in Bend.

He’s only been able to get together with them once or twice since January, but is planning to reconnect with both groups in December.

Martin is an entertaining and animated presenter, as anyone who has attended a High Desert Poetry Cell reading can attest.

At his event on Sunday, he’ll provide some background on each poem he reads and take questions from the audience.

“The worst thing for anyone to go to is a sing-song poetry reading,” he said.

“It will be great to bring a bit of this PLAYA landscape and mindset back to Bend and see what effect that has.”

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