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Poet Dana Guthrie Martin has released an eBook collection of poetry titled, Toward What Is Awful, through YesYes Books (2012).

Martin’s work has been paired with mute-toned, creaturely illustrations of visual artist GB Kim. The result is a small collection of poems that combine strangely beautiful visual components and multimedia formatting. This is a work for both poetry and art lovers.

Because Martin lives, reads and writes as a dyslexic, she refers to Toward What Is Awful as a “dyslexic transliteration” of the Roman poet Catullus’s poems. She likens her poetic translation process to divining tea leaves.

Transliterating is like faux translating. It is what you think a translation could be. It’s like reading tea leaves or tarot cards.

“When I let my guard down or when I’m reading, my dyslexia acts up. Letters flip around on a page or I scan the page horizontally as I read. It’s about attention and inattention. Perception and misperception. What I see in the work, I will never see the same way twice,” said Martin.

In 2010, Martin began transliterating some of the Latin texts of Catullus and wrote over fifty poems in a few short months. Once Katherine Sullivan, editor and publisher of YesYes Books, was introduced to Martin’s poems, she published seven of the transliterations for her journal, Vinyl Poetry. Then, she asked Martin to send her a whole manuscript of the poems for a much bigger artistic rendering.

“Katherine had the idea of an eBook to expose readers to work in a new format. I was open to it because, why not, it sounded interesting. Katharine Sullivan is someone I admire in poetry and in publishing as much as I admire anybody. She has opened the right doors, she advocates for her authors, she represents the absolute best aspects of the poetry community,” said Martin.

Once Sullivan got Martin on board for producing an illustrated web book collaboration project, seventeen of Martin’s poems were selected and paired with GB Kim’s artistic illustrations for the final version of Toward What Is Awful.

Catullus’ poems deal with the themes of love, women, sex and poetry. So what message rises up from Martin’s transliterations of his work? Martin says her collection is in conversation with Julia Kristeva’s concept of the abject, which is distinct from and exists in the space between the subject and object. “Kristeva is concerned with figures that are in state of transition or transformation. The abject is the consensus that underpins social order and, as such, disturbs social order and represents taboo elements of the self.”

To purchase Martin’s book, Toward What Is Awful, or to read samples of the new poetry ebook, visit: http://yesyesbooks.com/store/book/0201009/

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