I got the music in me.

Phoenix

When my son died ten years ago, I dedicated myself to The Writing Life. When my dad died seven years ago, I began the manuscript that became Eating the Heart First. I am directed now to express music, because it has been my longest love; and one from which I was parted, on the deep level I consciously and unconsciously sought.

My path of healing in this grief journey, after my mother’s passing, is to follow the music.

My mother and father sang to my brother and me all of our lives. Singing was a happy time with us as a family. I believe I was singing before I knew words.

My mother worked for many years at Lafayette Drug Company which was also a record store. She had quite the collection. I spent all of my allowance on records. I played them constantly. I would set the phonograph to continually play one side of a record while I slept, by swinging that arm out, or would stack as many records as could be held on the turntable, depending on the stereo I had at the time. I went through quite a few.

Once, my dad found a small electric organ in the trash and brought it home. It still worked. I tried to teach myself songs from a songbook my mother had kept from her childhood. Any time I was near a piano, I asked to play it, even though I had no knowledge of it other than to strike the keys and discover a melody that was summoned from my heart into my mouth. I would la la la or make up lyrics and sing out, likely annoying everyone in the house. My nanny, our Aunt Dee Dee, gave me a harmonica one year for Christmas. She put it in a toothpaste box inside a large cardboard box. I was ecstatic when I figured out it wasn’t toothpaste! I spent many hours of my childhood here at my grandparents’ home swinging and singing my own made-up songs under the oak tree. These are some of my most cherished memories of early life.

I was given 3 guitars as presents growing up. One got broken, one I still have, and another I traded for an acoustic I still own, too. I played devotedly for about four years, from age seventeen to twenty one and then let it go—

Music is an integral part of my daily life, whether it is for enjoyment, inspiration, or if it helps to facilitate mediation and sleep. In my book of poetry, there are poems written after dreams of playing instruments (in the dreams only), and the music that was produced in those dreams was unlike anything I have ever heard. Astonishingly beautiful and complex music. The palpable longing in the poems “Her Body Desires the Instrument” and “What I Long for In Dreams,” collected in Eating the Heart First, is the ache of necessity to be able to create the music in me. I can barely do this at this point, after not playing for nearly 25 years. I have forgiven myself and let go of the guilt and heartache produced from staring at my guitars for decades, as though playing them would never be a part of my life again.

I made a choice just a month or so ago to buy a new guitar and it was one of the best decisions of my life. If I had not bought it, I would either be in a mental hospital or dead, and that is not an exaggeration. It has been a salve to my soul and I am caring for it as an extension of myself, a necessity to my living being.

I identify as a creative. No other labels will suffice. A plus of being a poet, calling myself that for ten years, is that I have an edge with lyrics and an ease of process in creating them. Now to explore the instrument of my choosing, which for now is the guitar. Who knows where it will lead, but all I care about is this healthy, healing outlet, creative satisfaction and joyful pleasure. My family seems to be enjoying it and I have their support and respect.

My own excitement is almost excruciating. I am having a blast!  When I see friends or meet new people, I ask them to give me the inside of their wrist, so I can gently rub my callused fingertips on that spot. Call me crazy, but watch out—I might be a one-hit wonder. I might get paid royalties for a song I write. I actually was in communications tonight with a person who has a connection to Nashville recording businesses. Not ready for that but everything worthy starts with a holy dream and that is how I see this new direction, this new exploration. This guitar costs me nothing but the intial price (not very much) and the time, care and attention I give to playing.  I have found that playing cycles healing energy and recycles negative energy into a positive.

Maybe I will only share my music with with my closest family and friends, but I am doing it and loving it at a time when I could have completely fallen apart.  It is also leaving a positive impression on our daughter–the lesson that you can dream and you can commit to learn something new every day of your life.

And thank God for that.

A lovely gift to give yourself and those you love…

My debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, published by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo selection, is now available.

Click on the image to purchase directly from Press 53′s web site.

Also available on Amazon (may not arrive before Christmas)

For more information, or to purchase a signed copy, contact me via the email address below:

Clare L. Martin: martin.clarel@gmail.com

THANK YOU

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.”

— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America
___________________________

“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.”

R L Raymond  rlraymond.blogspot.com
Blog about the writing and poetry of R L Raymond
_________________

“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

Hello, World! Let me move you with my words.

Clare L. Martin

My debut collection of poems is now available for pre-order from Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Selection. Click on the cover image to take you to my page where you can order it. If you pre-order, you will have your book in hand, signed by me approximately one month before the publication date of Oct. 1st.

So much of my heart went into this book, it pulses. I hope you will enjoy! Love and thanks,

Clare

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Retreat Writings, 2012, Part 4

Day 2

Something needs to be said. Something needs to be written.

Facebook eats my face. Facezombie. I have no Internet access which is great. I need to come to terms with so much. This retreat was needed by all of us. So much matters and so much does not. I keep you with me. Your scent alights on my skin. I want to go under water and make no sounds. I want to fill with water and drown a lovely death.  

PLAY

My fingertips are tender from playing guitar. I like the little twinges that remind me that I am working hard again. My hand strength will come back and my skills will improve.

Patti Smith’s Banga is incredible. Her poetic power is full-on on this album. I love the entire work but I love Mosaic and Constantine’s Dream the best. It rouses something great and infinite within me. I am inspired to write a poem-song, too.

THE VEIL

Am                                             D

The veil that kept her a secret,

Am                                             D

the veil that hid her from life, lifted

Am                                             D

and her face shone like a radiance–

Am                                                        G

She set fire to the boarded house. 

 

Am                                                        D

She walked through the fire unburned.

Am                                                        D

She walked through the ashes of men.

Am                                                        D

The land of her people smoldered.

Am                                        G

She became fully alive. 

 

D                                             Am

And all of the scars inflicted

D                                             Am

in the name of holy honor

D                                             Am

were burnished to nothing.

Em                                    Am

And no man could waylay her

Em                                    Am

into motherhood or shame.

Em                                    Am

She was free to love man or woman.

D                                            G

Free to seek her own way.    

 

 

D                                             Am

When the veil lifted

D                                             Am

her face became like the moon

D                                             Am

and lit her solitary journey.

 

Em                                            Am

She walked until she found water,

Em                                  Am

drowning in her own image:

D                                          G

a reflection she meant to kiss.

 

 © 2012 Clare L. Martin

Hello. My Name is Clare.

Hello. My name is Clare.  Welcome (again) to my website.

I purchased the domain https://clarelmartin.com/ today and will be writing here with more frequency. I hope I can count you as a reader.

I will muse upon the writing life, real-life happenings, sleep revelations, waking prophecies, earth, wind, fire—things I am passionate about and the few things I hate with passion.  

Certainly, I will try to keep it interesting and valuable.

Stay tuned…

Peace.  

Clare

Everything in its Right Place

Earlier this week I went on a solo, self-directed, three-day writing retreat at a guest cottage, Casita Azul, in Grand Coteau, LA.  I rarely have alone time much less extended alone time and I was ready for intensive solitude.

I married at 20 and went straight from my parent’s home to my own with my husband—with no real attempt at setting up my own pad.  In the 22 years of being married I might have spent a combined three or four weeks apart (over one day) from my husband in all those years—two weeklong trips to NYC, one extended weekend in Austin, and maybe a weekend or two in New Orleans when Miriam was alive.  The longest time I was “on my own” was a six-week university-sponsored group trip to Europe in 1986—25 years ago this summer.  I was 17.

There have been some upheavals in my family and a fair bit of chaos since the beginning of the year—major life changes, illness, flared tempers and tears.  It was time to break the negative cycle, just for a bit.  My family fully supported my going on this retreat.  My mom surprised me the day I left with a check to cover the costs. She was really happy for me to have this opportunity and wanted to ease the burden.

I am having “MULTIPLE EPIPHANIES”

RE:

the writing life/my path
womanhood
selfhood
motherhood
wifehood
LIFE

I am celebrating all. 

I packed supplies for two nights/almost three days (food, music, books, laptop, paper, pen, and camera) and “checked out” from my life obligations. I had one rule. It was cool if I called you (like to say goodnight) or text you once or twice but it was not cool for anyone in my family or close circle of friends (who knew what I was doing) to initiate contact with me unless there was an emergency. A text would be less intrusive than a phone call (or an unexpected visit!) and just about everyone was cool about it. I thought that by letting people know I was going on a retreat that rule needn’t have been posted.

“Retreat” kind of seems self-explanatory.

When I first arrived I was able to transport my stuff in the Casita quickly and the first thing I did was to “move in.”  I was ritualistic about it. I put all of the food in the fridge or neatly on the table. I plugged in the computer (there was Internet available but I did not use it) set up my books, popped a CD in the stereo (so cool—great acoustics in the Casita!) unpacked my clothing.  Then I made a plate of cheese and fruit and sat back to slowly take in the place (which is very cute and comfy—I highly recommend a stay there.)  I “acclimated” to the Casita and let my SELF expand into its space.  I might have had one flashing thought that I would be at a loss with all the alone time I would have, but I intended to “do exactly what I felt like doing” without misgivings. Of course I am safe and not a delinquent so nothing bad was going to happen!  I certainly did not trash the place!!  I did dance, write, sing, sleep, eat, drink and write and sleep some more.

I left the laptop in standby mode, that way anytime I felt like writing I could just sit down and write.  I also kept journals handy and pens. I set a timer for 5-10 minutes for each “sit down session” and over the whole time I was on the retreat I produced 21 different burst of free-writing—which I plan to mine for poetry.  I did not set a strict agenda other than to read, write, and be alone, sleep if I needed to, take a country drive, write with pen on paper, eat well and take over the whole bed.  I stuck to that plan.  I thought I might have a good cry but that didn’t happen so I guess I didn’t need to—but if I had that would have been OK!

I listened to music—Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Kate Bush, Keane, Portishead, Joni Mitchell, some mix CDs that flowed into this groove and the particular playlist was really great for my mood.  I also brought a relaxation CD which is hypnosis/guided meditation.

It rained so much—perfect for my mood. I wanted to be as secluded as possible.  Some people go to tops of mountains to have a peak experience.  I went to Grand Coteau, LA, thirty minutes from my home.   A great time was had celebrating my growth as an artist, new realizations of myself as woman-human at mid-life, the surge of confidence I am experiencing, and the many new relationship connections I’ve made which feel very promising.  I took pleasure in all of these things. Most importantly, I was joyful in the spiritual communion with what is Essential with a capital E through which we can all be replenished.

a little bit of festival & facing truth (again)

During my brief time at Festival International de Louisiane 2010 I saw in the crowd people who were familiar to me but I could not remember under what circumstances I had encountered them before. Perhaps I dreamed them. It was uncanny. There were at least five who were in very close proximity to me who stood out as people that I should know. And then I saw the orthopedic surgeon who operated on my fractured toes. He was with his family moving away from me further into the sea of people. I wanted to fly over the fast-moving, swinging bodies to reach him to shout: “Thank you for saving my poor mangled foot!” I wanted to catch his gaze and just say “Hello, miracle-worker!” with my eyes.

I sat on the steps of the Federal Courthouse which was very near where the TV5Monde Stage was set up. The two women sitting next to me were wearing matching rings on their left hands.  I also saw two men kiss on the lips. It made me happy to see love in the open. There was something symbolic too I think in that we were surrounded by same-sex couples on the Federal Courthouse steps. I hope that is a good omen for future strides in the movement for equal rights.

The rising moon was three quarters full. The sky was blue glass-bright and cloudless.  Earlier, rain had been predicted. In fact in other southern states there were terrible tornadoes!  The weather couldn’t have been better for Festival—it was not too hot, breezy, and cool in shady spots.

The music sent me deeper into myself.  I tried to connect with my friends through texts but we were scattered about the downtown area at different performance stages.  My fear of crowds abated for a time. No one raged around me. I had my husband with me which always makes me feel secure.

I did not want to leave our spot. I could have sat on the courthouse steps until the music ended and the people streamed back to their ordinary lives beyond this wonderful creative celebration of Francophone and world cultures that are mixed so wonderfully in Louisiana. A world explodes into being in this microcosm made of music, art, food (and drink) film, visual arts, performance arts, spoken word, etc. Such is Festival International de Louisiane. 

Arriving at the festival I was energized but leaving I had to stop walking after short distances to take a break and catch my breath. I am terribly out of shape. My husband noted this when we got home. He said it kindly but it still hurt to hear this truth.  What have I done to myself?  What grief am I holding in my body? Plainly, why do I overeat and live a sedentary life?  I gained a great deal of weight and lost muscle when I broke my foot in January of 2009. And after I was rehabilitated I made several half-starts and full-on attempts at changing my behaviors to lose weight. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure a few months ago and while that is under control I know I am stressing my body— my heart and my knees especially by carrying this excess weight. My family is concerned about me and about their own health  issues. I want all of us to get healthier.

I cannot continue in this unworkable way of life any longer.

Haiti

My prayers and thoughts for healing the suffering of your people go out to you…I have and will continue to give what I can.

My prayers, too, are for all who are suffering in mind and body.

Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the American Red Cross. — Text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 on behalf of The Yele Haiti Foundation.

Reunion

 OFFICIAL BLOG RENEWAL POST003-1016

 

I wrote a new poem last night/today titled REUNION. I feel it is in final form and will be sending it out very soon.  I am prepping material for my anticipated feature at Casa Azul in Grand Coteau, LA in April (National Poetry Month) of 2010. I know it is a ways off but I want to generate new material for this reading.  I rarely read a poem twice publicly. It is a commitment I have made to myself and my short term goal to produce new work.

I am listening to Radiohead KID A and feeling naturally buzzed on this fine music.  FYI: my modus operandi often is to write the night away, but it’s not a workable plan for every night.  But if I am fired up to write I have no choice to obey the muse.