Expanding Circles: Readings in Lafayette and New Orleans

I have been invited to be a part of the Unlikely Saints “mini tour” organized by Unlikely Stories. Thanks to Jonathan Penton for this opportunity!

Details follow.



Friday November 4th 8:30 PM

Cité des Arts

109 Vine Street

Lafayette, Louisiana


Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Michael Harold (a.k.a. Michael Aro)
Clare L. Martin
Jonathan Penton


Saturday November 5th

In conjunction with the 10th Annual New Orleans Book Fair ( http://nolabookfair.com/ )  
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Frankie Metro
Clare L. Martin
Michael Harold
Kristina Marshall
Jonathan Penton

The book fair runs from 500-600 Frenchman Street. From 10am to 6pm the bars and clubs of this block open their dance floors and sidewalks to a number of publishers and booksellers. After 6pm, the clubs will run literary-themed events.


 Sunday November 6th at 3 PM

Maple Leaf Bar

8316 Oak St., (west of Carrollton)

New Orleans, LA

Unlikely Stories’ “Unlikely Saints” will read at the Maple Leaf Bar and Grill in conjunction with the Everette C. Maddox Memorial Prose & Poetry Reading, the longest-running reading series in North America! An open mic follows.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Frankie Metro
Clare L. Martin
Michael Harold
Kristina Marshall
Jonathan Penton

Hope to see you there!


Quickie before bed, well…

I was asked to participate in the Acadiana Center for the Arts DAF FY2012 AWARDS CELEBRATION for grant recipients held Monday—I was asked to read for this as one part of a showcase of local artists who are in partnership with the AcA.

As part of the entertainment segment of the “Celebration” there was an excerpt performed of an original contemporary dance piece “I’VE STOPPED HAVING THAT DREAM I’VE BEEN HAVING” choreographed by Paige Krause (which will be performed in its entirety November at the AcA.) Rose Hoffman Cormier and Jessica Jouclard, from a locally produced musical, sang a rousing bit about road kill! There were two of us poets—Kelly Clayton and myself.

It was such a thrill to be invited to this celebration. The state grants awarded in this ceremony, the people who implement the arts programs throughout the parishes the AcA serves, cultivate our creativity-rich Louisiana culture, making economic gains for the Acadiana area and beyond, and enhancing value for our state. These arts programs enrich, inspire, educate, and transform people.

It was a joy to hear Kelly read. I love Kelly’s work—it is clear, often tender and truthful, always strong and lyrical—hers is well-imagined art.  She is a passionate woman and writes with that great passion needed to process an experience into art.

The James Devon Moncus Theatre is a great space and this was only the second time I’ve read there. I read recently for the 100,000 Poets for Change event on September 24th and Monday.

On Monday I read three poems: “Remembering,” “Winters at the Lake” and “I Have Learned to Hold My Tongue.”  I was a little nervous but I think my voice was strong, although I was breathy.  I joked a bit with the audience and spoke plainly about my turn to The Writing Life seven years ago after a family member (my son) died, as a way to process grief.

I think I recall too that I said that I embraced my gift and honored it so that I could do what I was born to do—be a poet.  That’s not arrogant. It’s the most humble thing I’ve ever spoken.

The reading felt good.  I wanted to share poems that were specifically Louisiana-themed, although “I Have Learned…” is not. So many people who are arts-connected were there and gave both Kelly and me  heartfelt compliments and comments about the readings.

I was in a swoon and may have said silly things! I am still in a swoon–it’s Thursday and Monday is still on my mind!

A few months ago I bought blank business cards from Office Depot and found a template in Word that helped me make a personalized card for myself. It simply reads: Clare L. Martin POET and has my contact info. I was able to mingle with the recipients and guests after the program, and was asked for contact info so I handed several out.

Seven years ago, when I made my commitment to The Writing Life, I asked myself, “What is the smartest way to become successful at anything?”  I decided to treat it like a job. Give myself respect. Put in long hours. Always push myself to be greater than myself. Don’t compete with others but with myself—I can be better than me!  Learn as much as I can and let experience deepen me–say yes when the Boss asks you to do something.

I have said yes to almost every opportunity that has come my way in these past seven years.  I have accumulated a ton of raw material and finished works that I am actively and successfully marketing. Yes, I made silly “poet” cards to hand out to people I meet. It‘s quirky and I get weird looks sometimes but it is a true fact that I am a poet, and as a professional poet I need to be prepared and ready when opportunities to connect and share arise. 

Congrats to the Acadiana area DAF 2012 grants recipients and thank you for giving so much to the communities you serve through arts programming.

So much more could be said…time for bed.


The other day I walked into a white room and it was perfection. The wide, wooden floorboards shone. My footfall echoed in soft flip flop-claps. The air hummed coolly. White linen curtains glowed mellow light. I gasped; I felt punched because I recognized something in that clean, sharp room that we do not possess—an order, a becoming that was whole and indelible. (We live in squalor, awash in grief.) Could we be born again? Could we fit into a white, sunlit room of our own? In this room was a laughing wife, snuggling her beautiful son. Her clean-shaven husband entered their white room, kissed his family and sat beside them. There was no hardness between them. I don’t believe your promises anymore— you, who will not build me a white room. How long can I continue to sneak away to motley motels to luxuriate in aloneness, to delineate my own everything? There is someone else. There must be. There must be someone who would build me up bone by bone; fill me with a simple and clear eloquence, and renew me. Such is an interior white room. I am separating myself from myself from myself ad infinitum to find the door to the white room that eludes me and walk through it.

Baited hooks in the water…waiting for bites

Inventory: 26 (different) poems to 5 journals (no simultaneous subs) 3 poems in a contest, 1 chapbook in a contest, 1 full-length collection being considered, and 9 poems withdrawn due to lack of response over one year. (Grr)

The 9 poems I withdrew are in my ready file to be looked over again and re-submitted. Maybe tomorrow. 🙂


Also, 5 poetry readings scheduled in the next few months!


A green shadow flits across the wall. I grow old between breaths. The memory of you heartens me. You are the net beneath my aerial act—

As close as we are and as close as I hope we become, it was important for me to get away, to bury myself in cool sheets to stare at the ceiling–rain chattering above.  It was important for me to delineate myself; to work alone, eat alone. It was so important for me to lie awake in bed thinking of the long ago-summer in the south of France. I shyly spread my towel over the pebbles and sand and removed my top.  The old couple fished with nets in the water near me. They laughed and I lost my embarrassment. It was important for me to remember the lover I took—to remember myself young and unknowing.

There is a highway between us and through it we are connected. When you wake miles away, I wake. When a thought of me surfaces in your mind I am aware too of you. I believe in a psychic fabric that connects us all.

I wish I had brought an instrument to play in these lovely, lonely hours—a guitar, a harmonica; or even a great and grand piano, hauled miraculously on my very own back.

I will miss this place. I wish to return soon. I found peace here .

Final entry from Retreat Writings–July 2011


I tried for many years to live the writing life but I was unstable. I couldn’t focus. I was suffering blindly—not utilizing my suffering for the craft. I wanted make a mark. I had to educate and dedicate myself. I had to want it so badly that I would fight fiercely to best myself, to overcome my own feeble wit and find a true voice.  

I feel that this retreat marks a turning point for me as a woman and a writer. I could be on the verge.  I am not writing with an affect. I am not pressuring myself to produce some great piece of art. I am writing to recover, discover and grow. I am writing to understand something of my experience. I am carving my own path. I am on the Great Path, knowingly.


Retreat Writings–July 2011

Casita Azul


What is there in the moment before sound or in the moment after?  How do we define silence?  Is it more than the absence of sound? I am in silence and it is in me, stilling my very nature.  Silence abides in me and I in it. Across the street there are holy trees.  Across the street is a graveyard hundreds of years old. I want to go there to be in those silences that humans keep forever. I want to be in the whole fabric of quiet; to wrap myself in it. In that quiet, birds do sing and the wind flutters its breath—There is a silence we rail against.  There is a silence we reject. We scream in the quietest hours of night. We cry out before dying, or perhaps not. May we go to our deaths silently— resigned and decidedly gone. 

I am ready to take silence inside of me: a new love, a new world dawning in each breath.


I wash my hands.  I choose the heaviest apple. I turn on the faucet and cup the apple in both of my hands. I turn the apple over and over under the running water. The apple is firm and smooth. I find pleasure in washing the apple. The whoosh of the water calms me. I twist the knobs tightly and dry the apple with a clean dishtowel. The first bite is crisp, sharply sweet. I like the way my teeth snap through the skin and sink into the juicy flesh. It has been this way every time I have eaten an apple. I suck another bite— this one is a greater bite than the first. My whole mouth is employed in chewing. I swish the pieces around in my mouth with my tongue.  My jaw is tired from crushing the fruit but I persist.  I finish it quickly and grab another. The water runs through my fingers. My hands shape themselves around the fruit again, again.


The third passage–




I have come here to pray.  I have come here to put thoughts into words, and with words discover meaning.  I have come here to be and sleep alone so that what is not me can come over me, and so that what is essentially me can emerge.

This moment is my absolution—this quiet, this gift of silence that is not silence but a lush response of crickets, wind sifting through trees, waves of soft traffic noises. I never want to come out of this mystical repose. “Save me, save me, save me,” she sings–

July 2011—Casita Azul

The second excerpt from Retreat Writings– I will post brief passages over the next few days.

She Retreats

I am happy to be without you, edging inward into solitary unknowns.

I have yet to become the woman who I was meant to be.  I am a mother.  I was a mother at fifteen. I am a wife. I am your wife. I am afraid–I am afraid to touch the core of what I mean to say.

What am I doing here?  What am I directing myself to do? 

I will acclimate to the space. I will let myself relax and give in to its body of quiet. There are eight walls in this room. I am expanding into the numerous corners, filling this whole space with my expansive self.

I feel that this retreat…

Excerpted from my “Retreat Writings” which were generated during my stay at Casita Azul in July 2011. 

I will post daily excerpts for the next week.