Faith Today Review of Conspiracy of Light

Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis
by D.S. Martin – Review by Violet Nesdoly

“There is creative reading as well as creative writing” said the 19th century American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. D.S. Martin’s new book demonstrates the fruit of his creative reading of C.S. Lewis.

Martin, a Toronto-area poet and teacher (www.dsmartin.ca), takes readers in 77 poems through explorations of the role of the poet, riffs on ideas and lines from Lewis’ writings, explorations of Lewis’ fantasy novels, and musings about communication, our final state, and more.

From the first lines of the first poem—“A glance over your shoulder / assures you you can always get back”—to the final “Destination,” it is a magical trip.

Do readers have to know Lewis’ original writings from the 1940s and 1950s (such as The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia) to understand these poems? No. They stand on their own, though Martin has included an end section where he names the inspirational source of each.

Readers intrigued by questions of truth and reality will be satisfied, as will those who enjoy recognizing biblical echoes such as “Better is one day in his boats / than thousands elsewhere” (from “The Sacred Fish”).

Martin effectively adapts Lewis’ ideas to a new generation. In “On the Latest Impending Doom” which was inspired by Lewis’ “On the Atomic Bomb,” Martin’s dooms are 21st century: “So you’ve found a new engine of doom / running on fossil fuel …”

Most of the poems are free verse and wonderfully crafted. Martin uses lots of alliteration and rhymes—perfect and imperfect, within and at the ends of lines. These echo across stanzas unifying the pieces as well as making them a pleasure to read aloud.

Conspiracy of Light reminds me of the moon. In reflecting the sun’s light, it displays its own topography. Martin’s poems, reflecting on the brilliance of Lewis, also reveal the man who wrote them.

Book Facts:
Title: Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis
Author: D.S. Martin
Publisher: Cascade Books, October 23, 2013, paperback, 122 pages.
• ISBN-10: 1625642865
• ISBN-13: 978-1625642868
Price: $15.00

This review appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Faith Today