“Stag” 130cm x 94cm Charcoal, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas (2014, Tom Symonds)
languishes in mist
rends its tongue
with gritted cries
on the bough
a tarot tier
ineffable with dream
on my knees
to harvest a heart
in white woods
pierces the doe
that fed on apples by the gate
rain and detritus of winter
a coyote alone
claws the mud
a stag sharpens venerable antlers
on the cleaved breast
of a five-hundred-year oak
hoofprints in snow
and silver grass
black, wet bark
haunt the grove
vulnerabilities of earth
and burning rivers
day-lit moon is a scar
hawks, the sky
the chalice and the chain
strawberry crowns for the birds
death-keeper of desire
her keen sense perturbs
the physical world
white horses flee
a merciless fog
oak, cedar, cypress
slag of gray clouds
candle wax sun
the queen’s sallow eye
that is pestilent
©2018 Clare L. Martin
12/8/17 Penchant Group’s Retreat, Chicot State Park, Louisiana
In January of 2017, I facilitated “Writing Hope” with women being assisted to transition from homelessness by Acadiana Outreach, as six-week poetry writing workshop and reading of the women’s work at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church.
My second full-length poetry collection, Seek the Holy Dark, was released at The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference (AWP) in Washington D.C. I read with other Yellow Flag Press poets, and poets affiliated with Gigantic Sequins Press and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at George Washington University Textile Museum. I belatedly celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday in D.C. with her!
March was the Lafayette book release of Seek the Holy Dark at Reve Coffee Roasters. Friends far and near came and it was wonderful. As part of the promotion of the book’s release, I was interviewed on KRVS by Judith Meriwether and an article appeared locally in The Independent.
In April, I read at the Maple Leaf Bar. Such a wonderful thing to connect more deeply with poet-friends in NOLA in 2017. Also, in April I was invited to read at the State Library by Poet Laureate Peter Cooley.
Later in the month, I organized a reading with Jack Bedell and Darrell Bourque (current and former Poet Laureates, respectively) at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard Art Museum, to celebrate Yellow Flag Press’s Louisiana Cajun and Creole Series designees, as the three of us are.
Mid-April, I started a new job with Childress Communications as a content writer and ghostwriter! I also joined Connections Professional Networking and PRAL Acadiana to help my friend-boss, Dr. Cynthia Childress grow her firm.
In June, I was a featured poet at the Latter Library in New Orleans, thanks to poet Gina Ferrara. Always love my traveling Fairy Godmother, Bessie Senette, who is a love whirlwind in my life and shared so much of this exciting year with me.
October marked the occasion of the Louisiana Book Festival at which I was a featured author. As a panelist, I read with other women poets of Louisiana, selected by Current Poet Laureate, Jack Bedell.
November was the 10th Annual Festival of Words, which was heartily celebrated in Grand Coteau.
In December, I attended the Penchant Group’s first women’s’ writing retreat at the cabin in the woods (a wonderful spot at Chicot State Park, LA). It snowed!!
I edited and published three issues of MockingHeart Review, and interviewed several MHR poets (as many as I could muster).
I also organized, with musician and teacher, Esther Tyree, a Hurricane Harvey fundraiser at Artmosphere. Highlights continued with readings around Acadiana with dear poet friends.
Whew! Despite boughts of severe depression and financial trauma, I am so proud to say that I am sharing my gifts with the world.
Clare L. Martin’s second collection of poetry, Seek the Holy Dark, is the 2017 selection of the Louisiana Cajun and Creole Series by Yellow Flag Press. Her acclaimed debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, was published by Press 53. Martin’s poetry has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, Poets and Artists, and Louisiana Literature, among others. She founded and edits MockingHeart Review.
These last two weekends were word-centric love fests. First was the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, an annual celebration of writers, readers, and the books they love. And just yesterday the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective, Inc. celebrated the 10th Annual Festival of Words in Grand Coteau, LA. I participated in both events.
It was the first time I was a presenter at the Louisiana Book Festival. I was there representing my book, Seek the Holy Dark, (Yellow Flag press, 2017). I was also invited by our new Poet Laureate, Jack Bedell, to be on a panel of Louisiana women poets. This was such an honor. The whole weekend was fabulous with my soul sister Bessie Senette. Accompanying me to the author event and sharing her generous friendship throughout the trip was the cherry on top.
The best part was seeing so many writer friends, who live in other cities, gathered at this celebration. It makes such a difference to the quality of our friendships to be in the same room together, share hugs, and laugh. I feel like our state writers are in many ways growing closer and that is a wonderful thing. A big part of that is opportunities such as Louisiana Book Festival which has grown in stature and attendance. It makes it possible for writers to connect with each other and with their readers. Don’t worry, friends. I won’t spill our secrets from the excursion on this page!
Next up was the Festival of Words. This year’s featured authors were extraordinary and kind. Darrell Bourque, Allison Joseph, and Patricia Smith each offered illumination and inspiration. From the reactions I witnessed, each of these fine poets seemed to have a fantastic time.
In its ten years as a festival, Festival of Words in picturesque Grand Coteau has grown greater than imagined. Thursday began with a warm reception for the featured poets with a potluck and performances by three of the festival’s Teaching Artists. It was a showcase to present the working artists who had gone into the schools to present creative workshops to the middle, elementary and high school students of St. Landry Parish.
Friday was the featured poets’ night to shine and it was fantastic. The venue was packed full. The audience was thrilled and gave standing ovations. Saturday, there were more activities, including community workshops led by the featured authors and spoken word and literary writers from the community.
It’s the wee hours of Sunday. The clocks are about to reset to Day Light Savings time, but I wanted to share just a flash about how wonderful these past two weeks have been. If you can make it in 2018 to either of these festivals, I don’t think you will be disappointed. Books, authors, learning, and entertainment—what’s not to love?
My info for the 2017 Louisiana Book Festival. I do hope you can enjoy this literary celebration with us! Seek the Holy Dark (Yellow Flag Press, 2017) is one of the featured books.
2:15 p.m. to 3 p.m.
State Library, Fifth Floor Capitol View Room
Louisiana Poets, Part II
3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
I’m on a solo retreat, staying at a friend’s guesthouse. It came about rapidly as I was in the throes of anger and desperation and if I didn’t isolate myself I would have imploded. Thankfully, the space was available.
When I got here, I took a shower and then fell asleep. I slept from 1pm to 9:30pm. I stayed awake for a while, then went back to sleep until 2am.
I haven’t cried yet. I want to. If I don’t I will not have accomplished what I hoped to do. Release the crazy bullshit in my head and heart. Maybe I will do it now.
Beautiful and harrowing…
“We dodged a bullet,” someone said. Is that even possible? Hearts connect and suffering is universal. Escape is illusory. Even if we numb ourselves; avoid the horrific television images, even that is deceptive. Our coastal homes have been ravaged once again and the recovery will be long and grueling. Pray, yes. Help where you can, yes. But remember there is no safety and we are all in this together. We cannot separate ourselves from the suffering of others unless we forget that we are all made from the same spirit. And even if we forget, the spirit that moves through us all never will.
The sirens have surfaced again from deep waters.
They don’t care about our beauty or our sex.
They want our firstborn and our ancient ones.
Death is all they crave.
They steal our memories for fuel.
There is no safe place to hide.
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SEEKING THE HOLY DARK by Diane Moore
A FIERCE HEART by Karen Corinne Herceg
Seek the Holy Dark is the 2017 selection of the Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry by Yellow Flag Press.
Seek the Holy Dark is now available. Trade paperback, 66 pages, only $10. To order click here.