One of my poems, “Litany” has been translated into Turkish and will appear in a small print journal in Turkey called Gard thanks to poet and translator, Şakir Özüdoğru. How cool is that? Just to know that this poem has impact and has moved another to share it with readers in his native tongue is thrilling. Much thanks to Şakir and best to him in all his artistic endeavors!
What are you working on?
I am working on a second manuscript of poetry with hopes for a second book. When Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012) was done and out in the world, I was consumed with promotion of it and became less structured/focused in my writing time. Happily though, Acadiana Wordlab had just formed that same month and regular attendance counted for me getting writing done. The weekly sessions got me refocused and recharged. I am indebted to Jonathan Penton (Google him) for his vision and work that made this great community/activity thrive. I am the coordinator now, as Jonathan has moved onto other projects. My involvment gives me great pleasure. I give and receive. I am amazed by the wonderful writers who are growing in the Acadiana community and around our state. I have many new poems that have come out of the AW drafting sessions that will hopefully make it into the manuscript.
I have a working title for the manuscript: Broken Jesus. That title comes from a line in my poem, “Convergence,” which appeared in Louisiana Literature, but the image itself comes from a black and white photograph of a broken marble statue of Jesus on the cross at an abandoned church. Ralph J Schexnaydre, Jr. took that photo back in the 1980s. The image appeared on the cover of the first literary magazine in which my work was published, my university’s journal, The Southwestern Review.
I still have that journal issue (it came out in 1989, 25 years ago) but sadly Ralph doesn’t have the image anymore. I would have asked him to allow me to use it. I do have in my house a crucifix that was my grandmother’s and grandfather’s that is broken. A limb is missing from Jesus, and perhaps I can have someone photograph it for me down the road as the manuscript shapes up.
How does your work differ from others in its genre?
The work I am drawn to, the poetry that enlivens me is work that is finely crafted, visceral, meaningful, daring, brave, honest, sharp, and lyrical and I hope that my work is these things. I want to be a dauntless writer. I want to be writing new always: pushing myself, going deeper, going harder and reaching more deeply into you, the reader. I don’t know how else to answer this question because if I am not gripped by a poet’s language, attention to craft, willingness to rend hearts and punch guts, with an almost nameless kind of love for you at the same time, I usually put the book down.
Why do you write what you do?
I write to move other human beings with my words.
How does your writing process work?
I used to be strictly tied to typing rather than writing in longhand but since I have been a devotee of Acadiana Wordlab’s mostly pen-to-paper process, I am more attuned to my hands, albeit in a different way than typing letter by letter. This is something new and fun for me, to write out drafts in notebooks. It’s something I had truly not practiced except for note-taking since getting a typewriter, then a word processor, then a computer. The words are moving from my brain to my hands but my hands know more than my mouth does.
In my at-home practice, I usually start with a free-write. I don’t wait for inspiration but because I am a constant reader, I am inspired daily. Also, those ephemeral voices (that may become lines of poetry) are a grace to which I am sharply attuned. (It can cause problems to live so far up into your head but I manage to be grounded). A word or phrase may come to me while eating buttered grits or taking a bath, and I get up, write it down, and follow where it leads. I have rushed out of the bath naked (they’ve all seen me naked around here) and gotten on the computer to get words down. My short term memory is weakening I think. I also might need to get my bathrobe out of the closet.
Sometimes if I am driving and a line comes, I will pull over and voice-record it on my phone. But the question of writing process beyond the mechanics of actually writing is that I firmly hold that I cannot call myself a writer if I am not writing. I don’t feel I deserve that name if I am not doing it in some way, and I count many ways: letter-writing, journaling, creative writing, and emails—they qualify too, if they are creatively inspired.
For many years my only writing was letter writing and it was necessary for me to have that one person as an audience. The three friends I wrote to on a regular basis are now deceased but really I owe them deep thanks for enjoying my letters and writing back. Those correspondences saved me and my writing career, whatever that is or will be, because it kept me writing. Those friends kept me writing and encouraged my writing when my days were black pages.
*Thank you to Margaret Gibson Simon for tagging me in this fun and challenging effort to enlighten others about our ways and whys of writing. She can be read at Reflections on the Teche
I am tagging:
Participate if you like and link back here! I will link to you, if you are inclined to play along.
Be well, friends.
Events at AWP at which Clare will appear. See you in Seattle!
MadHat & Plume Present: an off-site reading at the AWP
Friday, February 28th, 2014 @ 6 pm to 9 pm
Taphouse Bar & Grill Seattle
1506 6th ave, Seattle, Washington 98101
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Clare L. Martin
and appearances by your hosts, Marc Vincenz, Jonathan Penton, and Daniel Lawless
Book-signings by Clare L. Martin
On Thursday, February 27th and Friday, February 28th from 3-4:00 pm (both days) poet Clare L. Martin will sign copies of Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012) at the Press 53/Prime Number Magazine table (CC 35-36). Copies of Eating the Heart First will be available at the Press 53 table in limited quantity.
And on Saturday, March 1st from 11 am – 12:00 pm, Clare will sign copies of Eating the Heart First and Vision/Verse 2009-2013: An Anthology of Poetry (Yellow Flag Press) at the Yellow Flag Press table (K 21) Copies of Eating the Heart First will be available at the Yellow Flag Press table in limited quantity.
Vision/Verse 2009-2013: An Anthology of Poetry
William Lusk Coppage
Rita D. Costello
S. B. Ferguson
J. Bruce Fuller
Ashley Mace Havird
Ava Leavell Haymon
Clare L. Martin
Stella Ann Nesanovich
Jan Rider Newman
M. Rather, Jr.
M. E. Silverman
The 2014 AWP Bookfair is located on Level 4 of the Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place in Seattle.
Wednesday, February 19th at 7 pm the winter installment of the Voices Seasonal Reading Series will feature a special evening of literary readings by poets Clare L. Martin and Diane Moore at Carpe Diem! Gelato – Espresso Bar located at 812 Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette. The public is invited to enjoy gelato, espresso, tea, and pastries while experiencing a unique and enlightening literary event. The event also celebrates the two-year anniversary of this highly successful reading series in Lafayette.
Clare L. Martin’s debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, was published fall 2012 by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Selection. Martin’s poetry has appeared in Avatar Review,Blue Fifth Review, Melusine, Poets and Artists and Louisiana Literature, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web, for Best New Poets and Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net. Her poems have been included in the anthologies The Red Room: Writings from Press 1, Best of Farmhouse Magazine Vol. 1,Beyond Katrina, and the 2011 Press 53 Spotlight. She is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, a graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a member of the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective and a Teaching Artist through the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Martin founded and directs the Voices Seasonal Reading Series in Lafayette, LA, which features new and established Louisiana and regional writers and co-coordinates Acadiana Wordlab, a weekly literary drafting workshop. She serves as Poetry Editor of MadHat Annual and Editor of MadHat Lit, publishing ventures of MadHat, Inc.
Diane Moore is a writer of books, short stories, articles, and poetry. Her latest published book is a book of poetry, In A Convent Garden. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in the Southwestern Review, Interdisciplinary Humanities, American Weave, Xavier Review, Trace, The Pinyon Review, and other literary journals. Her young adult book, Martin’s Quest, was awarded a grant that placed it on the supplementary reading list for Social Studies in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes and was listed on the Louisiana Library Association’s reading list for accelerated students. Martin’s Quest was also a finalist in the Heekins Foundation Award Contest for an outstanding young adult book. Diane has been involved in poetry readings with both former Poet Laureate of Louisiana Darrell Bourque and Poet Laureate of Louisiana, Julie Kane; with New Orleans poet Brad Richard in the Festival of Words program in Grand Coteau, and with the present Louisiana Poet Laureate, Ava Haymon. This year, she published another young adult novel set in south Louisiana entitled Martin and the Last Tribe, the third in a series about the young traiteur hero of Martin’s Quest.
This event is free and open to the public.
Feast upon the scintillating and salient poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction, audio, art and multimedia works in MadHat Annual, Issue 15. We have our our “Eye on the World.”
My debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, published by Press 53 is available. Click on the image to purchase directly from Press 53′s web site. Available via Barnes & Noble andAmazon. For more information, or to purchase a signed copy, contact me via the email address below:
Praise for Eating the Heart First
“Clare L. Martin is a fine young poet whose work is dark and lovely and full of a deep organic pulse. Like the landscape of her beloved Louisiana, her work is alive with mystery. You could swim in this hot water, but there are things down inside its darkness that might pull you away forever. It is an exquisite drowning.”
An excerpt from a review by Stacia Fleegal for Blood Lotus: A Journal of Online Literature:
“Martin is a fearless poet who opens her collection with a poem called “Naked.” She tells us she “winc[es] at self-recognition”—but wincing isn’t running, isn’t hiding from the mirror. In “I Have Learned to Hold My Tongue” a few pages later, silence isn’t forever, but “Not yet, not yet.” Words must gestate, be nourished in wombs until viable.
Knowing when to let words out becomes knowing how hard to love, and the knowledge, anthropologists might conclude, comes from women. Perhaps it’s one woman who is many women: “The woman naked before the mirror,” “the woman you married,” “Bone Woman,” “Girl Running with Horses,” “Garbage Woman,” “wood-boned mother,” “the earth, your other mother”…there are more. Martin tells us what women know, and looks to women in dreams, in art, and in memory for answers. Many of her poems even read like spells—the knowledge is “conjured,” “illuminates” and “enlightens.” Love letters are burned and smoke is “sacrificial.” Ashes are offered “to the thunder and wind.” Ceremoniously, Martin honors lives—her father’s, her infant son’s—she couldn’t herself sustain anywhere else but in the altar-tombs of her poems.
“What are these words / but weapons of grief?” she asks rhetorically in “Abandoned.”
And such weapons as we find in her book are exquisitely rendered.
“Clare L. Martin pulls off an impressive balancing act in her debut book of poems Eating the Heart First. In this collection, divided into three sections, she manages trust of her intuitive powers while she tats her findings onto poems built with technical expertise. She is a believer of dreams, and the whole of the work can be read as an oneiric treatise guided by the powers she believes in: the power of memory, the power of water, the power of moons, the powers of longing, and the power of love. In one of the late poems a crow in a dream asks, ‘Let me be a whorl of darkness— / Let me be a fist in the sun.’ All of the poems in this collection have the impact of that crow’s call and of the trope it creates. Gradually the poems reveal richly textured revelations of a heart tied to human experience in that ‘dream we cannot know completely.’ And, while we may not ever know the dream completely, Ms. Martin hands us a guidebook to dreams and to the art that uses dream and dreaming as the scaffolding from which to make something beautiful, and useful, and mysterious all at the same time.”
— Darrell Bourque, former Poet Laureate of Louisiana and author of In Ordinary Light, New and Selected Poems
“In her first collection, Martin deals with many common themes – motherhood, death, nature – but does so with an unsettling grace. There is an honesty and an understated tone that give each piece the right mix of tension and release. Many of the poems are exceptionally well wrought, describing loss and hope, anger and want. The most powerful piece in the collection has to be “Bread Making.” The seething anger, mixed with a dash of christian mythos, combined with flour, and sweat, all bake together into the perfect loaf.
Although described as a Louisiana poet, Martin will appeal to readers way beyond the dankness of the bayou.”
Blog about the writing and poetry of R L Raymond