Please visit Main Street Rag’s online bookstore to view my author page or to order Too Much Breath.

The chapbook is also available at the following independent Colorado bookstores:

Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe (Boulder, CO)

Barbed Wire Books (Longmont, CO)


Too Much Breath



Most poets are satisfied to be motivated by the certainty of memory, even by the stories that are “hiding / in the jowls of our dead.” But Martin Balgach in his very wise Too Much Breath knows memory is something we have to fight with our vision of an unknown future, which is why he says in one poem “I want to be inside things I’ll never know.” The result is a perceptive and engaging poetry marked by paradoxes where he wants “to lose everything I’ve never had.” The stakes are that high: the loss even of loss. At once philosophical and heart rending, this is a terrific book that pulls the curtain away from our easily satisfied nostalgias to reveal unsettling truths. But it never ends there, nor does a poetic quest like his end there, for Balgach is the real thing, and his poetry is a life’s work, as William Matthews once quipped, for a poet who can imagine, in the face of such loss, how eventually his “old heartbeats / vibrate to the stars.”

—Richard Jackson



The poems in Too Much Breath seem spoken from the eye of a hurricane of both the world’s and the self’s making, a vantage point that promises no easy abidance of strife. But somehow the Hericlitean notion that justice IS strife is summoned, embodied, blooded, and set about to walk and think and feel and wonder in a verse commensurate to the energies it cannot live without. Martin Balgach combines an eastern European visionary temperament with gritty American experience, not by pattern, but anew, poem after poem, to remind us that poetry is, yes, of our earth, but that this is exactly why it can take from the celestial, for as his wonderful poem “Warmth” says on behalf of the sun, “We are kept alive by a star.” This is a terrific debut.

—William Olsen

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