KWH Pick of the Week: “The Book of the Dead Man (Memory)” by Marvin Bell, Chosen by Sam Martone

Posted on June 11, 2012


Knox Writers’ House Contributor’s Pick of the Week 6/11/2012

The Book of the Dead Man (Memory) by Marvin Bell in Iowa City, IA 

Chosen by Sam Martone in Galesburg, IL who says:

I love lists and inventories and collections of things, so it’s no surprise I’m a fan of Marvin Bell’s Dead Man poems, which are relentless accumulations of objects and images, all tethered to this (these) mysterious and shape-shifting figure(s). “The Book of the Dead Man (Memory)”, I feel, features the wonderful strangeness of these poems at its best. In the first part, there’s a parade of Ifs, a tumultuous getaway, a gathering up of everything. In the second part, the Dead Man steps outside the poem and looks at what events led to Dead Man poems existing in the first place before retreating back into things that might have happened, building a world of imagined pasts until the fever breaks. I like the Dead Man poems because every time you read one, it feels like you uncover something new, something you hadn’t noticed before, and listening to the audio is no different, no less rewarding.

 Michael Walsh, another poet well worth checking out on this site, originally directed me to these poems, so a big thanks to him for that.

Let us know what you think….post a comment or email us at