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Synopsis

“Marvin Bell has the largest heart since Walt Whitman.”—Harvard Review

In a recent interview Marvin Bell said, “I’ve been trying for thirty years to figure out how best to put the news into poems—what other people would call politics. But there are some hairy aesthetic questions connected to overtly political poems.”

Mars Being Red is the most political book of Bell’s storied career—and one of his most beautiful. Infuriated by our country’s military aggression and destructive politics, Bell asks, What shall we do, we who are at war but are asked / to pretend we are not? What Bell has done is craft a book of urgency and insight, anger and action:

. . . I am, like you, a witness
to the coffins that were Viet Nam and Iraq,
to a political machine that came up three lemons . . .
I am the big ears and the wide eyes
to whom time happened. I lived in stormy weather
writing songs of love because, tell me
if you know, who can help it?

Marvin Bell served on the faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for over thirty years. He is the first and current poet laureate of Iowa.

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