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Book Review :: The Book of I.P. (Idle Poems)

The Book of IP (Idle Poems) by Chris Courtney Martin book cover image

Guest Post by Nicholas Michael Ravnikar

This eclectic book from Chris Courtney Martin foregrounds commodified intersections of American culture in light of spiritual awakening. Reclaiming Hollywoodspeak IP to refer to poems written during “idle” time, Martin questions the very idea of value creation. Deploying the true American musical habits of blues (viz “Black Betty” and “Hellhound”) and jazz, these syncopations and melodies transmute the cannibalized, dollar-driven kitsch rituals and artifacts of Americana into talismans for meaning-making. Independent Black cinema is never far from mind, as Melvin Van Peebles and Rudy Ray Moore, for instance, were both threats to and sources for the status quo. Readers dance from piece to piece as rhymes and measures suggest expectations to upend. Consider the first (and last) stanza of “Intuition”:

Who are you?
I been knew.
Who am I?
I, too, fly.

Here’s verse to echo Dickinson, Brooks, and Blake. And Martin’s spiritual grasp can perhaps match theirs, with topics that span Kundalini awakening, paganism, tarot, and hoodoo. There’s depth, too, in Martin’s excavation of how our society manufactures us in the mainstream, particularly in the concluding essay. Therein, these “Idle Poems” suggest the “Intellectual Property” beneath the mirror of any reader’s encounter with art. This is fun, prophetic stuff.

The Book of IP (Idle Poems) by Chris Courtney Martin. Alien Buddha Press, June 2022.

Reviewer bio: Blurring the lines between understanding and overthinking since 1982, Nicholas Michael Ravnikar is a neurodivergent dad/spouse/poet who writes kids books for grownups. He hasn’t made anything from NFTs yet. After working as a college prof, bathtub repairman, substance abuse prevention agency success coach, copyeditor and marketing specialist, he’s been disabled and unemployable following a nervous breakdown. In his spare time, he lifts weights, meditates and plays pickleball. Join him on social media and read more at bio.fm/nicholasmichaelravnikar

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