Prodigal Poet: Dionisio Martinez

That Dionisio Martinez is among the fold of Bay area poets is a small blessing.

His proximity allows local readers to do that rare, invaluable thing that people who love good writing long to do: read a great book thoroughly and then meet its author — shake their hand, query them, applaud them. It's a beautiful thing, and because of the lack of major book tour traffic through the area, it's something sorely missing. But Martinez can be our guy. Our nationally recognized poet guy. Our prestigiously published Norton Poet guy.

Martinez reads and discusses his work, sharing wit and wisdom, as part of the Hillsborough County Library's October-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The event takes place at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at John F. Germany Public Library.

Martinez's latest collection is Climbing Back (2001). It explores the desire to return to some lost order, a place where objects are definite and distances are clearly marked. The Prodigal Son, the central character of the poems, is told of in third person, except for a few poems in which he speaks. It's an odd motif, but one that works. His style of prose creates a dreamlike effect, at least the effect of listening to someone describe a dream.

Born in Cuba in 1956, Martinez has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Whiting Foundation. His essays and reviews have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times.

John F. Germany Public Library is located at 900 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa. 813-273-3652.

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