“Becoming weather” could be restated as becoming becoming, that Deleuzian dream of replacing essences with situation in a present never finished happening nor fully started. But Becoming Weather isn’t poetry as post-structuralist paraphrase, it’s a book about being-in-the-middle: of courtship, a New York commute, global crisis, phenomena and the moments of attention they attract. As that list should make clear, it’s also about moving up and down the scale of event, producing a witnessing body as cosmic and immaterial as that of Young’s Night Thoughts or as small and sensuous as “the steam // that ascends 54th Street / on the arthritic stems // of undressed city trees.” The formal figure for all these passages through becoming seems to be enjambment, which makes middles of syntax, and Martin is ingenious at producing solution after solution for making the line a place of becoming rather than the static origin or fate of assertion. The first line of the entire book, “Not that what,” in the section titled “Disequilibrium,” introduces us to a habit of line that keeps content somewhat at bay, producing a becoming-syntax that suggests what’s to come rather than accommodates it. There are many more of these monosyllabic three-word landings between flights of sense—“so it no,” “[s]o is it,” “to go on, “and in so,” and so on, lines where nothing much semantic happens but which cultivate an actuality of proposition and reference on both sides of the present verse. For Martin the actual appears in poetry “as an unin- / terruptedness // wrests disclosure into song.” It’s not just the steepness of the cut or the severe music it builds, it’s that Martin manages to wrest from enjambment a detention of the actual that feels like the transports of love or cloud-watching, both of which happen throughout the book against a background of New York City’s buildings, mass transit, and social exchanges, its O’Haran hamburgers and Objectivist street signs and crowds. Against those obdurate features of the urban, Martin poses poetry as a mode of “being both” and “being of”:

                                                                just as weather is                  surely
    the first of all      arts              the first of all         artists            you are here

That kinetic gapping comes from the book’s third section, “This False Peace,” and I’d gloss its amidness with a moment from the book’s second movement, “The Small Dance”:

                               To say song
    is the medium                   is also to say
    song is the middle’s          allocation

These passages show that the poet demands from his own forms the same “pivots of unpredictability” he discovers wherever he looks and feels. The left-margin-flush steepness of singletons, couplets, and tercets in “Disequilibrium” gives way in the subsequent sections “The Small Dance” and “This False Peace” first to allover field composition and then to internal gap, shifting the look and function of enjambment until becoming happens on the scale of the book, refusing to let any one dynamic presentation of line and stanza congeal into a reified method. The volume’s threestyles of rendering line are linked by two prose interludes about “order” whose verselessness becomes, because of the virtuosic handling of line everywhere else, the potential for form rather than its obliteration; as the second one, “Toward Corporeal Order” anagrammatically puts it, “the form from which the others emerged.” After the last section Becoming Weather delays being over with a “Coda” and then “The Chorus,” a page which lists all the authors whose language forms the citational weather of the book, from Henri Bergson to C.D. Wright. It’s a humble way to end such an ambitious architecture, moving past the poet’s own last words into the proper names that let us know the words are not the poet’s property but his environment

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