Prologue for the Age of Consequence
Garth Martens’ debut, Prologue for the Age of Consequence, is about the tar sands and industrial projects of Alberta, and the men who work in them. But to describe it as such restricts the book to its physical concerns, when in fact these are poems of great philosophical ambition, and startling ethical and psychological reach.
Martens has made an elemental world both beautiful and severe, and on his stage, characters assume a collective status both emphatically human and radically mythic. He is interested in endurance, in addiction, loss, abuse, and pain, in how people are created, and how they create themselves, out of crude material both inherited, and scavenged. His language is rough and baroque; his metaphors are titanic in their range and scope. This is a book about grace and error, about hurtling towards the unknown, about acting out. Martens writes: "It is dark when you reach the excavation and you don't know if the road starts or ends here. If it's abutment, chimera, hole." Prologue for the Age of Consequence accrues the propulsive force of an epic. It will pry you open, and reorder what it finds inside.