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Learning by Rote

Learning by Rote

In this collection, I write about relationships, the cruel, complicated, simple, joyful, sexy, fearful, painful, intense. I write about expectations and our ability to fulfill them or fail to do the same . . . what can go wrong, what does go wrong, how much beatings hurt and how much kisses heal . . . about the terrors and wonder of childhood, the terrors and wonder of aging, about sexuality, gender and loneliness.


The poems in Learning by Rote are not for relaxation. More accurately, they call the reader to pay attention, be mindful.

  • Reviews

    Martina Newberry is a surprising poet. Just when you think you know what she knows, you don't. She knows more and has the words to prove it. I found myself falling for her sense of things, appreciating not only that she has earned it but that she displays it with a nicely sharp edge.

    —Eloise Klein Healy, author of The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho

    One gets the sense from Martina Newberry's poems of a poet that gets distinctive delight in the surprises of sudden and enlightening insight and discovery through the practice of verse. These poems study with unflinching curiosity the peculiar ways and thoughts of modern human society. The end result are well crafted poems that have a disarming emotional honesty that is simply refreshing.

    —Kwame Dawes, Pacific University of Oregon 2012 Emmy Award-winning poet, photographer, media artist

    Whether turning her attention to a mother's precarious night kitchen, the courage in the smoke from English Ovals, Irving Penn's photograph of Parisian butchers, the 1957 coincidence of Hoffa's election as Teamsters president and Russia's launch of the world's first artificial satellite into space, or the hurricane that arrives in the middle of an already weepy day, Martina Newberry makes unexpected music we're better off for listening to . . . When it comes to love, war, friendship, and loss, Newberry's double-edged blade of memory is never less than finely honed. She understands that—somewhere, everywhere, sooner or later—it's a matter of physical, emotional, or psychic survival. In these poems you'll find no small share of humane deliverance, one very human life at a time.

    —David Clewell, author of The Low End of Higher Things, Poet Laureate, St. Louis, MO

    "The book's elements are contemporary mixtures, weighed and measured, then burned by consideration into new compounds with the solution of a new reflection. Learning by Rote is serious poetry for a serious time. Full of insights as to how we look at ourselves and each other, how we relate to each other and how we survive the outer world and the inner world. This book gives a fresh reflection on the personal, social, and cultural . . . "

    —Deerbrook Editions

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