I don’t have a picture of Marty Christensen, so I’ll borrow a couple.

Astoria born, did some Navy time I think, then Portland State for polish but it didn’t take. He maintains a full time muse, paints with abstract oil, dissects words, grooves on KBOO jazz, smokes incessantly, knows all the bartenders, remembers all the poets, a true beatnik master, walks with a book in his pocket, cameos in Van Sant films, talks politics history chemistry madness aesthetics hermeneutics jail time night time bebop time any time my time life time.

The man has boundless energy, always making it new, always finding something somewhere to add to the mix, shy and vulgar, drunk and apprehensive, beaten and worn, he lives in the body of a poet, not a someone who folds socks or indulges students. He’s published only a scattering of his poems, a slim slim chapbook, My Flashlight Was Attacked By Bats, and on the audio compilation Talking Rain.

Marty’s done more public performance poetry than anyone around, and it is all the real thing, burst forth and such. Don’t think labels. They don’t apply. Try this one out, just say it to yourself like a long exasperated sentence.

Frisking the Cobwebs

poets wither endlessly away
like pearl-blooming oysters
harrowing the flux to make a little
something glitter out past dreaminess

not even their best friends
know quite what to say to them

published in Mr. Cogito, and again in Sweet Reason, Fall 1987

Both journals – the first from U of P and edited by poets John Gogol and Robert Davis, the second edited by playwright Charles Deemer – are more examples of Portland Public Artwork. Yes not all is bolted down!

But Marty, explosive with a aging prizefighter’s posse and potbelly could charge the Satyricon stage at midnight, after pumping up and down, working up a sweat a thirst a passion for the words, hearing the words, each tinkling, each questioning, each word a virtue, each word a song, each word a question, like an arrow for a target. What a sight, KABOOM and you’d have a little adrenaline surge, like, where’s the exit man this guy is apeshit, and then you’d stop looking and stop judging a man and start listening to the words, man its about the words not nothing else, just words, each a tinkling question, just words, and then you’d hear something which didn’t make sense but it stuck there and maybe stayed there for a moment all by itself, alone in your head.


“You could be a jukebox / I could be a dime.” Those words, properly applied as Marty can do, make you a better person.

Watch your toes and fine this gem.

Advertisements