“Look at homie on the beach picking shells in dress shoes,” David Tomas Martinez writes in his raw, electrifying second collection. His widely praised debut, Hustle, revealed the singular voice of a young man traumatized by the hood he was strong enough to transcend. In Post Traumatic Hood Disorder, he returns with a haunted depiction of life after tumult and hurt. Martinez moves swiftly from Che to Sir Mix-A-Lot, from Versace to Icarus, from Mt. Sinai to the Eldjga volcano, from Pegasus to a pair of father and son bulls, protagonists of a dirty joke. “My hustle has been a stone/ breaking the bad luck of a lake,” he writes, and the poems maneuver anxiously between that bad luck lake and the writer he has become. This is the question, and the struggle, at the center of these poems: who am I now? Where does a study of Greek gods fit with the memory of watching porn with a group of men? How did machismo affect my mysteriously broken relations with women? Am I more kin to Montaigne than Kanye? These questions define our contemporary obsessions, and David Martinez adds to that conversation poems that dazzle, even as they move and enlighten us.
David Tomas Martinez is a CantoMundo fellow and recipient of a 2017 NEA Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, the Verlaine Poetry Prize, and the Stanley P. Young Fellowship from Breadloaf. Hustle, his debut collection from Sarabande, won the New England Book Festival's Poetry Prize, the Devil's Kitchen Reading Award, and $10,000 from the Antonio Cisneros Del Moral Foundation. Poems from the new book have appeared in Tin House, Oxford American, Boston Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, and Poetry. He lives in Brooklyn