Martha Ronk is the author of nine books of poetry, including Partially Kept (Nightboat Books); Vertigo (Coffee House), a National Poetry Series Selection; In a landscape of having to repeat (Omnidawn), a PEN/USA best poetry book 2005; and Why/Why Not (University of California Press). She has also published a fictional memoir, Displeasures of the Table, and a collection of fiction, Glass Grapes and other stories (BOA Editions). She is the Irma and Jay Price Professor of English at Occidental College in Los Angeles, teaching Renaissance Literature and Creative Writing.
Transfer of Qualities addresses the uncanny and myriad ways in which people and things, but also people and those around them, exchange qualities with one another, moving in on, unsettling: altering stance, attitude, mood, gesture. Each entry in the book probes the dissolving boundaries between those sharing space with one another; and the various cross-genres in the book—prose poem, creative non-fiction, personal essay—echo the theme of inter-dependence.
"Martha Ronk’s Transfer of Qualities belongs to the same tradition as Stein’s Tender Buttons and Ponge’s Le Parti pris des choses, but Ronk’s homage to the 'not-me' of objects, and of others, is suffused with an elegance, melancholy, and intimacy all her own. Her meditation offers quiet, multiple, and profound insights into intimacy, grief, and the 'residue of lost time.' In the words of Henry James—patron saint of Transfer—this generous book is 'disposed for human use and addressed to it.' It truly gives, and 'gives out.'"
"Ronk’s latest collection gathers together the everyday and the particular in order to think through—feel through—how it is that the material lives of things and objects make claims upon us and we upon them. These prose pieces offer again and again a subtlety and brilliance that leaves no thing short of voice and intensity. To read this work is to fall back into the world and all the ways it means its materiality."