This full-length of centos, Butterflies Over Flame, is Aura Martin’s debut collection. Assembled as a collage, each cento draws from novels, short stories, and poetry. Butterflies Over Flame tells a story in three acts, exploring the various complicated stages of life. These centos build and swell off each other, yet maintain a coherent storyline throughout, from a girl experiencing her first period, a young woman searching for meaningful relationships, a mother grieving the death of her child, and an old woman living alone by the sea. These themes reflect life, death, upheaval, recovery, and love. Wrenching and triumphant, this collection is a must for lovers of found poetry and prose poetry.
Praise for Butterflies Over Flame
Back in the 3rd century BC, when Ausonius started writing centos, perhaps he imagined this formal appropriation would become a form of homage (as Greeks created centos to honor Homer, and the Romans did the same to honor Virgil). This act of tribute through poetic quotation feels viscously alive in Aura Martin’s book; lines are liberated and repurposed. There is also bit of dramaturgy, a conscious staging in the sections labeled as Acts, which puts various poets in dialogue with one another on the stage of the poet’s imagination. It’s a pleasure to wander through the stagings, and Martin reminds me why the cento is such a durable, invocative poetic form.
-Alina Stefanescu, author of DOR
Aura Martin’s debut of centos is a counter-clock collective that takes us back into raw, undeniable human emotion. The speaker(s) is so recognizably foreign, as if the form itself were more diorama than collage, a window on a rural highway rolled halfway down, a polaroid click of love & forgiveness. This book is fierce & tender, a classical dramatization of finding oneself in “their world, starless and sacred.” Both unhinged and tactfully crafted, this taps the entire spine. Martin’s voice sings as the conductor’s voice sings, silent to herself while an opus to us. Each poem clicks into the next the way a symphony turns a landscape into a feeling. Keep this book by the coffee pot. Keep the water boiling.
-Philip Schaefer, author of Bad Summon