The other day, I was looking at the home page for Charlotte Readers Podcast, and I saw an announcement about an episode featuring Martin Settle and his new memoir titled Teaching During the Jurassic: Wit and Wisdom from an Old Hippie Teacher. I listened to the podcast, and I enjoyed hearing Marty talk about his experiences as a teacher. What I liked the most, however, was just hearing Marty’s voice again. To hear this podcast, please click on the following link: https://charlottereaderspodcast.com/martin-settles-teaching-during-the-jurassic-is-wit-wisdom-and-humor-in-the-classroom/
I first met Marty when he and his wife, Deborah Bosley, moved to Charlotte in the early 1990s. Marty enrolled in UNC Charlotte’s English MA program during the time period that I was directing the program, so I got to know him first as a graduate student. After he earned his MA, he became a lecturer in the English Department and continued to teach in the department until 2010 when he retired. Marty and I often talked during his years at UNC Charlotte, and I miss those impromptu conversations.
In the years since his retirement, Marty has hardly slowed down. He has published four books of poetry: The Theology of Dunes (Main Street Rag, 2015); Coming to Attention: Developing the Habit of Haiku (Main Street Rag, 2016); The Backbone Alphabet (Xlibris, 2017); and Maple Samaras (Wild Leek Press, 2018). He has also made a name for himself as an assemblage artist. He creates sculptures out of found objects and items acquired at garage sales. His most recent creative project is his memoir, which came out in August of this year. For more information about Marty’s various creations, please click on the following link: https://www.martinsettleartist.com/
I contacted Marty after listening to his Charlotte Readers Podcast, and I asked him how his experiences in Charlotte influenced his writing career. Here is what he sent to me:
Coming to Charlotte and working at the university provided me with the fertile ground for my writing to blossom. There were three people in Charlotte crucial to my development as a writer: Robin Hemley, Irene Blair Honeycutt, and Scott Douglas.
When I first began to teach at UNC Charlotte, Robin Hemley was the head of our creative writing program at UNC Charlotte. Not only was Robin an excellent novelist, but he took his role seriously in providing workshops and readings for the Charlotte community. These workshops and readings primed the pump of my desire to write myself. Further, because of Robin Hemley, I was introduced to a poet, who greatly influenced me – Charles Simic. Simic, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, was the poet that I modeled myself after in the beginning years of my writing
Irene Blair Honeycutt has become an institution at Central Piedmont Community College as the founder of one of the most prestigious art events of the year Sensoria. When I first came to Charlotte, Irene had just begun her Spring Literary Festival (eventually these developed into Sensoria), which included respected writers, readings, and workshops. Attending these events, I was able to get inspiration and writing advice from the likes of Miroslav Holub and Mark Doty. Ms. Honeycutt’s own poetry and instruction were valuable as well.
Finally, I am one of the many writers that Scott Douglas has taken under the wing with his press Main Street Rag. For years, Scott provided a monthly reading series at Vin Masters, a wine shop. During this time, I was able to gather the courage to read my works during the open mic sessions. Eventually, Scott offered to publish my first book of poetry, The Teleology of Dunes, and my second book, Coming to Attention: Developing the Habit of Haiku. There is nothing so encouraging as to see your book in print for the first time.
Without the aid of the above Charlotteans, I know my writing efforts would have withered on the vine. Each has contributed key pieces to my serendipitous journey to become a writer.
In the years since Marty retired from his teaching career, he has blossomed as a poet and artist. His creative work takes various forms, but it’s unified by his deep interest in philosophical questions. Whether he is writing poems, creating sculptures, or reflecting on his teaching career, he is always playing with ideas. His philosophical approach is reflected in the titles of some of his works. The title of his first book refers to the philosophical concept of teleology. The title of his best-known sculpture is Descartes’ Dream, which is a reference to the French philosopher René Descartes. In my opinion, Marty’s varied talents and wide-ranging philosophical interests qualify him as Storied Charlotte’s very own Renaissance man.