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Ethereal Flowers

poems by Martin Willitts Jr.

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With the attention of a field botanist, Ethereal Flowers explores healing plants, plants in mythology, plants that inspired van Gogh paintings, plants that are poisonous, and plants discovered by Lewis and Clark. By honoring plants and trees, we honor the source of life, and we acknowledge that we are mutually connected, that the survival of one impacts the other. Poet Martin Willitts Jr. gets on his hands and knees to notice the detail of petals, pistils, leaf formation, lateral and bilateral stems, the smell of earth, the bees shuttling in the garden, unearthing a deeper meaning to plants, while planting them firmly in imagination.

NATURE / Plants / General
POETRY / Subjects & Themes / Nature

ISBN: 978-1-956056-81-5 (print; softcover; perfect bound

LCCN: 2023933182

Released March 21, 2023 | Copyright 2023

120 pages; 5 black-and-white illustrations from Curtis's Botanical Magazine

Author Biography

Martin Willitts Jr.
is a Quaker. He is a retired librarian and musician living in Syracuse, New York. He is an editor for The Comstock Review and a judge for the New York State Fair Poetry Contest. He has been nominated for seventeen Pushcart and thirteen Best of the Net awards. Winner of the 2012 Big River Poetry Review’s William K. Hathaway Award; 2013 Bill Holm Witness Poetry Contest; 2013 “Trees” Poetry Contest; 2014 Broadsided Award; 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, November 2016, Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Editor’s Choice, December, 2020. His twenty-four chapbooks include National Chapbook Contest winner William Blake, Not Blessed Angel but Restless Man (Red Ochre Press, 2014) and Turtle Island Editor’s Choice Award The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2016). His twenty-two full-length books include National Ecological Award winner Searching for What You Cannot See (Hiraeth Press, 2013); How to Be Silent (FutureCycle Press, 2016); Dylan Thomas and the Writer’s Shed (FutureCycle Press, 2017); Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions, 2017); Home Coming Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019); 2019 Blue Light Award winner The Temporary World; Unfolding of Love (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2020); Harvest Time (Deerbrook Press, 2021).


“This collection by prolific author Martin Willits Jr. brings together poems that do more than describe flowers and their healing properties. Trilliums inspire lust while coneflowers conspire. The author explores what it is to take on the properties of bitterroot, when plants are sated, and which ones may be studying him even while he watches them grow. The poems envision what Lewis and Clark might have seen, as well as offer mediation on human mortality in contrast to the rebirth gift of heirloom seeds. This book is full of lush imagery and surprise, sure to be a favorite of gardeners and lovers of nature poetry.” —Stacey Murphy, author of Old Stones Understand, 2021 Royal Dragonfly Winner

“The natural world sets the body/mind/soul coordinates in the truest way I know. Martin’s informed collection eloquently reminds the reader of this. Ethereal Flowers’ field guide format, along with its fusion of fact and wonder, make for an extraordinary wander.”
Susan Currie, photographer, poet, author of Superflow: Light Up the Artist in You

“Awakened we become in reading these poems of Martin Willitts Jr. Consider them a balm for the soul, the collection as a botanical guidebook. Read and study these poems for their knowledge, but do listen to their music, as their words often rise to a discovery left ringing in the mind.”
Wally Swist, author of Taking Residence and Evanescence: Selected Poems

Articles and Reviews


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