Martin Ott

Former contributor Martin Ott (32.1) has a new book of poetry coming out this week. In our latest interview, we talked with him about the collection's inspiration, his other new projects, and what's next on his writing journey.


Besides your upcoming book, what are some projects you’ve been up to since publishing with The Pinch?

Since 2012, I’ve had the good fortune to publish a collaborative book of poetry on TV-based poems with John F. Buckley called Yankee Broadcast Network, Brooklyn Arts Press, a book of poetry Underdays, which won the Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press, a book of short Stories Interrogations, Fomite Press, and a speculative novel Spectrum, C&R Press. I’ve also been working with Paradigm and a producer in developing a TV pilot and pitch to studios for my first novel The Interrogator’s Notebook

Your new collection is titled Lessons in Camouflage. Can you tell us about the book’s inspiration (and maybe some of the lessons within it)?

The definition of “truth” is the engine behind Lessons in Camouflage. We hide so much of ourselves in the courses of our lives. In Lessons in Camouflage I explore these personas: the patriotic ex-soldier, the happy-go-lucky friend, the unflappable workplace alter ego, the patient parent and spouse, the writer passionate about social issues. Meanwhile, the world itself attempts to gaslight us in an overwhelming 24-hour news cycle. Lessons in Camouflage is my attempt to make sense of it all and the lessons are for me as much as for readers. 

You’ve written several collections. Have you noticed any changes in your writing style/focus since the first two? Similarly, is there anything you try to keep consistent throughout your poems?

My first three books of poetry Captive, Underdays, and Lessons in Camouflage I’ve come to realize are a trilogy. All of them struggle with the definition of “truth” and stylistically are very similar. My work has become less straightforward over the years, perhaps, as I’ve grown to enjoy letting a poem dictate what it wants to be versus moving in a linear direction. While all of these books incorporate formal style and free verse, I also begin to weave multiple narratives in poems in my later books, in a dialogue between myself and the world. My most recent poetry manuscripts Fake News Poems – 52 Weeks, 52 Headlines, 52 Poems and Prison in the Middle of Nowhere, prose poems disassembled into verse, are less personal with a lens on the world more than on my own life. 

What’s next in your writing adventure?

A novel Dream State (I’m halfway through a draft), a book of LA-based short stories, and a new thematic poetry project.

What is your favorite a) music genre b) book, and c) midnight snack?

  1. Indie rock (which the older I get the more I hear on classic rock stations)
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird – it works on all levels (heart, mind, spirit)
  3. Life cereal – my “go-to” childhood favorite breakfast food is in rotation late at night.