Fellow Press 53 poet, Wendy Willis, tagged me for The Next Big Thing series. Thank you, Wendy! Wendy’s splendid collection, Blood Sisters of the Republic, was published in 2012 by Press 53.
What is the working title of the book?
My debut poetry collection, which was published October 2012 by Press 53, is titled EATING THE HEART FIRST.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
We are meaning seekers. For me, all language of a poem should work to embody meaning. I wrote the poem, “Eating the Heart First” several years ago and when I wrote it, my personal response to the metaphor was that it is the way I approach poetry, when reading or writing it—my aim is to go to the heart first. Many, many years ago I envisioned that if I ever did publish a book of poetry (which has been an enduring hope) that I would use that title.
What genre does your book fall under?
EATING THE HEART FIRST is a book of poetry.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a very challenging question as there are not characters per se in the book, but there are variations of voice that would definitely need a strong female lead to perform the poems. I would say that Marion Cotillard comes to mind as an actress who could embody the grief and longing, eroticism and dark beauty conveyed in the work.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Mysterious, often dark, and always vivid poetic worlds arise in the lyrical language of Clare L. Martin, who stands firm as a powerful, emerging feminine poetic voice crying out for grace and beauty and love in the midst of death and more death and eerie dreaming against a backdrop of stunningly-imagined scenes of her beloved Louisiana and myriad realities we share beyond the haunted wetlands.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The poems in EATING THE HEART FIRST were written over an eight year period, but I did not begin shaping a manuscript until 2007, when my father died. Working on it, I did not keep track of how many drafts were produced. I just kept adding and subtracting poems and shaping, shaping, shaping. The manuscript went through many incarnations and even a different title. I know the actual manuscript was a work-in-progress for at least five years.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wrote poetry sporadically since high school and through college, but did not have a dedicated practice until I made a conscious decision to live The Writing Life in 2004 when my son, Adam, died. I made the commitment to do something excellent, and as my best skill is writing poetry I dedicated myself to it. The book is the evidence of eight years of poem-making and striving for excellence in my art.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I would say that it is a very womanly book, sensual and powerful, yet very, very vulnerable. My work has been for some time, “in pursuit of the image” and I am very proud of the sometimes exquisite imagery I have achieved in this book. I believe the i(mage) is the (mag)ic of a poem which transports the reader into the “heart” of the poem.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
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.
I tag the women below for The Next Big Thing series, because their books are or will be!
Watch for their interviews at their sites on Wednesday, February 6th