Instructions for The Lovers

A taught, tender collection of poems woven with sadness and loss dealing with aging, attachments, and the precarity of life.



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“Dawn Lundy Martin’s poems read like a real-time excavation of what poetry can and can’t do,” writes Maggie Nelson. In Instructions for The Lovers, her most stripped down, direct work to date, Martin creates a poetic field dense with thought, image, and sound as she reflects on her relationship with her mother, experiences of queer polyamory, lesbian sex, and the racist conditions within the dying American university system. With rigorously embodied vulnerability and virtuosity, Martin constructs moments of pleasure, humor, and sexiness woven with grief—a tender body to live in.


Dawn Lundy Martin’s dark brilliance subsumes in the “tissue / breath that heaves, into a depth so black we cannot reach it—” echoing William Kentridge’s meditations on the artist’s dedication to the image via Géricault’s renderings of many decapitations. Martin mines in “a sewn language” where “defeat is inevitable,” and “freedom” is “near total alienation,” revealing hope in Instructions for The Lovers—a “subjectitude,” Martin’s singular voice, gesture, art: “fragrance like sun or metal—the I’s sublime coma— .’’ This is an incredible masterpiece.

-Ronaldo V. Wilson
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ISBN: 9781643622316
Paperback, 128 pages, 6 x 9 in
Publication Date: June 25, 2024

I look forward to spending time with this one: the poems in Instructions for The Lovers look to be intimate and bodily, yet textural and textual in the approach to language.

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DAWN LUNDY MARTIN is an American poet and essayist. She is the author of four books of poems: Good Stock Strange Blood, winner of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Award for …

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