It’s not too late!

Write Now! Find Your Creative Fire
6 sessions, ( only 4 spaces left ) Wednesdays from 6-7:30 p.m. April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 8, and May 15.  $75/per person, (Age 18+)
Need a boost to your creative life? Do you want to harness the power we all have as creative beings through the learned skill of creative writing? Think it’s impossible? Don’t doubt it. You have something to say and can say it beautifully with knowledge, experience, and practice.
Teaching Artist and Poet Clare Martin will lead a six-week course that offers inspiration and instruction, time to write, and professional guidance as a practiced poet and editor whose considered feedback is an integral part of this course.
Each week, Clare will present her own original “experiments” –prompts and challenges that lead to creative breakthroughs and deeper, more effective creative writing. Each week’s session will explore a different theme for focus and inspiration.
The course will culminate with a public reading by participants on the stage at Teche Center for the Arts.
THEMES
• April 3— A Blank Page is Freedom
• April 10— Memory as Muse
• April 17— What Dreams Can Inspire
• April 24— For the Love of Nature
• May 8—Visual Art as Inspiration (Ekphrastic Writing)
• May 15—6 p.m.  Open
Participants will build “writing muscles,” and emerge from the course sharper writers. Continued writing outside of the course is highly recommended.
While the focus may lean on poetry, prose writers are welcome to attend and will find this guidance and instruction valuable, as it pertains to any genre of writing.
It’s preferable that we not use laptops or computer tablets. Notebooks and pens will be provided.
Clare L. Martin’s third book of poetry, Crone, was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2018, and produced as a dramatic reading at Teche Center for the Arts in January 2019. Her second full-length collection of poetry, Seek the Holy Dark, was the 2017 selection for The Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry from Yellow Flag Press. Her widely-acclaimed debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, was published by Press 53.
Clare’s poetry has appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, 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. In 2015, Clare founded the online poetry magazine, MockingHeart Review. She is a lifelong resident of Louisiana and works as the Executive Assistant to Executive Director Sandra Sarr at Teche Center for the Arts.
 
 
Clare L. Martin

Write Now! Find Your Creative Fire

Sign up at techecenterforthearts.com Only 10 spots available for this course! Contact me for more information.

Contact Clare

Flyer

Need a boost to your creative life? Do you want to harness the power we all have as creative beings through the learned skill of creative writing? Think it’s impossible? Don’t doubt it. You have something to say and can say it beautifully with knowledge, experience, and practice.

Teaching Artist and Poet Clare Martin will lead a six-week course that offers inspiration and instruction, time to write, and professional guidance as a practiced poet and editor whose considered feedback is an integral part of this course.

Each week, Clare will present her own original “experiments” –prompts and challenges that lead to creative breakthroughs and deeper, more effective creative writing. Each week’s session will explore a different theme for focus and inspiration.

 

Participants will build “writing muscles,” and emerge from the course sharper writers. Continued writing outside of the course is highly recommended. Suggested reading lists will be provided for further study and inspiration. While the focus may lean on poetry, prose writers are encouraged to attend and will find this guidance valuable, as it pertains to any genre of writing.

It’s preferable that participants not use laptops or computer tablets. Notebooks and pens will be provided. Registration is now open at techecenterforthearts.com.

For More information contact Sandra Sarr or Clare Martin at info@techecenterforthearts.com or (337) 366-0629.

BIO NOTE: Clare L. Martin’s third book of poetry, Crone, was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2018, and produced as a dramatic reading at Teche Center for the Arts in January 2019. Her second full-length collection of poetry, Seek the Holy Dark, was the 2017 selection for The Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry from Yellow Flag Press. Her widely-acclaimed debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, was published by Press 53.

Clare’s poetry has appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, 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. In 2015, Clare founded the online poetry magazine, MockingHeart Review. She is a lifelong resident of Louisiana and works as the Executive Assistant to Executive Director Sandra Sarr at Teche Center for the Arts.

“Marsh Song I”

marsh-song-1“Marsh Song I*” Mixed media, Clare L. Martin ©2016
Inspiration—

We drive westward along the Louisiana coast on a crumbling highway with my parents. The sky purples with becoming light. Our bellies are full of boudin and cracklins. Hot coffee is handed carefully from the front seat to my husband and I seated in the back.

We sing “J’ai Passe Devant Ta Porte” or “Bon Vieux Mari,” called by my mother and responded to by my father. Always my father embellishes his responses. My mother rolls down her window and points to the Roseate Spoonbills lifting from their roosts. My father stops singing and praises God.

A prayer is said for loved ones, wherever they are. More of the morning sky erupts over the marsh. I think of painters, how I wish to be one, how I have tried with my words. This day we are traveling to see Sandhill Cranes that have been spotted in Creole, a few miles from here. We always take the scenic route and happily travel from dawn to dusk.

How many times have we come to this slipping away land and been blessed by our forgetfulness of the world’s problems and our own? Countless. How much do I miss these two people who gave and saved my life? My longing cannot be measured.

To treasure the dead is our inheritance.

*I dedicate this artwork and these words to my beloved family, especially to my deceased loved ones, wherever they are.

 

Clare L. Martin

Prompts for Poets and Writers

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Here is the workshop outline I offered yesterday to our local group of Renegade Writers. We meet every other Saturday to write new. We share the responsibility of leading the workshops on a voluntary basis. There is no requirement of attendance. We have an online presence on Facebook where we share ideas germane to writing and creative thought.  Renegade Writers

RENEGADE WRITERS
July 23, 2016
Workshop Presenter
Clare L. Martin

Music/Language


Listen to Ambient music (try Pandora’s Ambient station) without words. Let your eye zigzag around these words or your own wordlist of random words. Write down the words that resonate with you.

sin receive fabric cold heavy slice tender banal gift span taint dismal fountain bashful blend breath blue groan six fever bloom panic hallow veil frost become trill boast float grease tin capsule din air host seek whisper cannon lyrical walls toll patient aid oil hold pallor desperate temperament fecund virtual tantalize crease grind aspirate glean diamond dissonance heavens wicked stars oceans gallop crust obsidian curve rock mist colored tall river hope wood animal bell hunted believe final aspire delicious scare canopy  stairs burst kind liar shunt plastic cantor carrion shine ghost saint skin terrible flash grave fire rust fear rose brunt dire burden gloss perpetrate scandal viscerate denial vibe eat ball

Framework– Here are suggested prompts for you to get your writing started. You can go in your own direction, of course. 
Write the spell to undo a curse.

Write words of forgiveness to a person who wronged you.

Write the earliest memory of a childhood fear.

Write a dreamed nightmare.

Write details of a normal morning or evening, only imagined as extraordinary and not dull in any way.


MORE PROMPTS

Think of a gift you’ve received—It could be intangible; a propensity toward something, a talent, a sensibility. Would you give it away? Why or why not?

Choose an animal. Think of its form, its musculature, its skeleton, its hide, its eyes. Think of its habitat and its habits. Think of its place in mythology and literature. How can you incorporate this animal into a working piece of prose or poetry so that it becomes a metaphor?

Music and language are so intertwined. When we listened to music, did you have images in your mind? Visual images that popped in the visionary sight of your mind? Did you write them down? Try to remember things that you might have missed writing down. List them or check your notes and keep writing.

Discussion

What are your writing habits? How can you improve them by adapting others’ ideas as your own?    

See?

download (3)

I took a long nap. I dreamed I had an invisible horse. No one could see the horse, not even me. I *believed* the horse was there. I had a trailer for it and a corral. I was readying my horse to transport it home. I was in a motel parking lot with the horse and the trailer. I had a three-wheeled bicycle that I was going to use to pull the trailer. It was night and I felt very vulnerable. I had everything hooked up and the invisible horse loaded in the trailer. I couldn’t ride the bike and pull the trailer on the highway. I woke up mouthing my deceased mother’s phone number, 981-0411, over and over.

Renegade Writers 10/03/2015

I am part of a group of trusted writers and newcomers who meet every other Saturday at various locations to write together. This past Saturday, I led the exercises. We take turns leading, so the responsibility of running the group is shared.  I am posting here my writing exercises. I only ask that if you use them in a class, that you credit me. Please feel free to use them to spark your own writing.  It would be interesting to see examples of your work generated by these prompts in the comments below.
~Clare

  1. LANDThe land has stories. Consider our natural environment, or a particular place that you have ties to, and tell its story. Start by listing the ideas you have associated with this land, and any memories. Use the items on your list as a source of inspiration and write a poem examining why this occupies your mind. As you write, continue to hunt for clarity and more to say. Does the land change you? Do you feel a particular way when you think of it or visit it? Does this place still exist? Is it threatened? Do you feel calm or fear when thinking of it or visiting it?

Weave your impressions and ideas into a poem or short piece of fiction.

  1. Thirteen ways of looking at a _____________________________

After reading the poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” pick an object and write several stanzas numbered 1-13. Strive not to be literal but to see beyond the thing.  Write the most imaginative narrative about the object you chose that you can conjure.

  1. Word Prompts

Circle 3 or more words that resonate with you from each group. Write sentences with each of those words. Push for clarity and interrogate the sentences to determine a narrative thread. Spend time shaping this into a poem of short piece of fiction.

We will repeat the process with another round using different words, or your own list.

Autumn
Passion
Blackberries
Muddled
Rain
Treatise
Forgotten
Solitary
Succumb
Devilish
Tryst
Sallow
Summer
Gaseous
Hunger
Egg
Hawk
Sunrise
Ice
Devoid
Succulent
Root
Balance
Seethe
Lover
Blight
Umbrella
Luck
Hurricane
Rocks

Binary
Ridges
Calculate
Benevolent
Deteriorate
Canoe
Peer
Violin
Wired
Scold
Panic
Retreat
Huddle
Scam
Wash

Skin
Engine
Calamity
Deteriorate
Road
Refuge
Memory
Pecan
Fire
Window
Scald
Toes
Menstrual
Cosmos

Legions
Exhaust
Wonder
Blast
Price
Sheer
Polish
Vulnerable
Flame
Dignity
Edge
Beguile
Bellow
Hunt
Disciple

©2015 Clare L. Martin

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.

“Hands like flushed doves”

Washing my hands this morning, I thought of  Noami Vincent, who was like a great aunt to me. She was my grandmother’s neighbor from the time that my grandparents (along with my mother and her siblings) moved from the country after a terrible flood that took everything they owned, to the house where they lived 50 years, where I live now.

Noami lived into her 90s, became my closest friend for many years until she passed in 2007, the same year as my father. She was a lively, seemingly impervious Cajun woman who had so many losses in her life.  She was one of the strongest women I have ever known. She lost seven children. She miscarried six times and the only child that she birthed, a girl, died in childbirth. This woman saved me so many times in our great friendship. She was family to us and is dearly missed.

I looked out of the bathroom window this morning and could see her house, empty still.  When she lived, her door was always open to me and to so many loved ones.  She was brave, funny, stubborn and deeply faithful. Here are a couple of facts about her:  she kept a bayonet in her closet to defend herself, if needed,  and she traveled alone to California from Louisiana without knowing how to drive during World War II. 

Noami’s story is complex. Both of her parents were deaf and mute and her mother went blind, too, after contracting diabetes. The poem below is collected in Eating the Heart First, and was written with inspiration from events in her life. She was very close to my mother, too, and I incorporated something of my mother’s narrative in it.

I will leave it at that.

I don’t want to use copyrighted images in this post, but please look at this painting, “Hands #1,” oil on canvas, 24″x24″, 2011, previously shown at Saatchi: Gallery Mess, London by Daniel Maidman that really struck me today.

 

MUTE

 

Hands like flushed doves

flutter to say: dry the dishes—

 

sweep the floor, but never be quiet.

When she went blind, too,

 

we spelled goodnight and I love you tenderly,

tracing each alphabet

 

on the scattered leaves of her palms.

I married and she touched

 

my hips, spreading her hands wide

to note I was getting fat. She patted

 

my growing belly

but never cradled my offspring.

 

When the infant died,

pantomime cries

 

fell like trees

in storms from her mouth.

 

 

“Mute” first appeared in Blue Fifth Reviewthe blue collection 1, anthology series, 2010 and is collected in Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012)

Copyright 2012, Clare L. Martin. All rights reserved.

Friendship

 

I wait for a friend in a sweet café.  I fidget with my phone, fluff my hair and close my eyes to the sun that flits in mirrored windows of passing cars. Then she arrives and we order tea. We talk for an hour before what is on my heart arises. We sit with a white rose between us and I cry.  My heart is so obvious. My old-woman heart, bare and tender flourishes then, in the café undone by sunlight, through compassionate friendship and a lovely tea.

The monsters of a thousand years tried to demolish me. I was left in want, desolate and afraid. Friendship comes into and out of life, but I relinquish myself to love. I will never let love go, even if I am discarded. I will keep holding fast. I will keep seeking the beautiful and exquisite selves of caring humans. There is nothing that would turn me away.

Only love banishes fear; fears this precious life also summons.

One child in a grave and one in my arms.

Yesterday I visited Adam’s grave. I parked my car, turned the engine off, and spotted the white angel that serves as his marker. When he was buried, I remember how concerned my mother was about the upkeep of the grave. I told her it didn’t matter to me; that who Adam was as a human being was not in that grave.  At the time, I did not even think I would visit his grave, but would honor his memory in my heart. But, over the past ten years I have returned many times, parked my car and trained my eye on that white angel.

I knew my mother had acquired that angel on her own, that it wasn’t part of the pre-need package deal that we set up with the funereal home years before his death. After I left the graveyard, I called my mother and asked her where she got the angel. She thought for a few minutes and told me that she had gone to Chastant Brother’s Feed Store off of Pinhook Road in Lafayette and purchased it. It is a concrete statue, small, of a cherub. My mother told me that she bought white enamel paint and painted it herself on the back patio of her house. I told her thank you for doing that because it serves a great purpose. My eyes are drawn directly to it and it is a simple yet beautiful reminder of Adam’s innocence.

Later in the day, I was reading in my bedroom.  My daughter came in and asked me for a backrub. She is eighteen and has her first job. She has been working very hard and she really feels it in her back. I gave her a backrub and we shared a sweet moment together. She thanked me and hugged me for a long time. I rested my hand on her head, kissed her and told her how incredible she is. The thought came to me that I had one child in a grave and one in my arms. This thought caused a mixture of deep gratitude and sadness and resonant longing that permeated the rest of my day.  But today, I am soaring. I have an angel in the afterlife and an angel here on Earth.

Peace.