The Heart’s Progress

We’ve had a great trial to endure over the past eight weeks. I worried that there would be a cloud over Saturday night’s celebratory event for Seek the Holy Dark. There wasn’t. Everything went off without a hitch. We had a great crowd of friends who came to celebrate with us. Friends came from New Orleans, Lake Charles, and Houston, as well as Lafayette and Grand Coteau. I felt such enormous love and support. A young couple came who I didn’t know. They had heard the radio interview and didn’t want to miss the reading. That sent me swooning. They were so sweet.
I am so very fortunate to have the friends and family I do. While in many ways I have extraordinary strengths, I really am vulnerable to stress. I am blessed to have protectors. I am humbled by this. I have friends and family who see when I am fading out and give me the energy to help me come back to life. I am brought to tears with gratitude for Bessie Senette for being the woman she is and loving me so dearly. I was thrilled that my dear husband and beautiful daughter came to the book release event. My husband was injured last week and he was going to stay at home and rest. When I saw him come through the door I was ecstatic. At dinner afterward, Debra McDonald Bailey said she was ready for my third book. I need a minute to catch my breath!
All day Sunday, I felt hungover. It wasn’t because I drank. The anticipation of and the event itself took a lot out of me. Sunday morning, Bessie said she felt like she had been struck by lightning. That is how I felt, too. It was a great night, no doubt, but the buildup of excitement and then the culmination draws on your reserves. I slept off and on most of Sunday, thus I am awake at 1 am on Monday. I’m having coffee, too. I need some quiet hours to continue to recover and process all that is in my heart. Staying in the moment is the only way I can live with peace. Thank God!
I look forward to these wee hours in solitude. My heart is full and I am glad. Thank you to all who came to be with me in the special moment. I love you all.
A big THANK YOU to Rêve Coffee Roasters. We were so thrilled to be there Saturday.

2017 Events


Seek the Holy Dark Book Release Party/Poetry Reading
March 18th ~ 6-8 pm
Rêve Coffee Roasters
200 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, Louisiana
Free and open to the public. Complimentary wine to guests 21 and over. Food and beverages available for purchase.

Lyrically Inclined
Tuesday, March 21st 6:30 pm
Workshop and Poetry Reading with Clare L. Martin
Black Cafe
518 S Pierce St #100, Lafayette, LA 70501

Your Life, Your Stories: Life-Writing Workshops with Clare L. Martin
Saturday, March 25 at 2 PM – 4 PM
@ The Alleyway House,
122 E Bridge St Breaux Bridge, LA 70517


Maple Lear Bar- Everette C. Maddox Commemorative Reading Series
Sunday, April 2nd, 3:00 pm
Maple Leaf Bar
8316 Oak St
New Orleans, LA 70118

Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry / La Série de Louisiane de Poésie des Acadiens et Créoles (reading with Darrell Bourque and Jack Bedell)
Saturday, April 15th, 2-4 pm
Hilliard University Art Museum
710 East St. Mary Boulevard
Lafayette, LA 70503

Your Life, Your Stories: Life-Writing Workshops with Clare L. Martin
Saturday, April 22 at 2 – 4 pm
@ The Alleyway House,
122 E Bridge St Breaux Bridge, LA 70517


Featured Poet at The Poetry Buffet
Saturday, June 3rd, 2 pm
Latter Branch Public Library, 5120 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA


Artwalk Reading with Jane V. Blunschi:
Saturday, September 9th – 6-8 pm
James Devin Moncus Theater
Acadiana Center for the Arts
101 W. Vermilion St.
Lafayette, LA 70501


Louisiana Book Festival

More dates are being arranged.

To book Clare for a workshop, poetry reading or book-signing:
or (337) 962-5886




a memory: leaves in piles
a kiss
hazel eyes
a rotten picnic table

soft hands
the hands of a philosopher
the hands of a seeker, a poet
children of the Universe

kisses the curves
under a soft blouse
undoes buttons
the chill of autumn
his sweater / her shoulders

blackbird spins the ochre leaves
(itself a leaf), the blackbird—
a burnt leaf at nightfall
spun from the soot of dreams

This memory evokes tears
This memory
a ruin across a ruined landscape

salts the earth of her life
sets fire to her harvest

The blackbird rises
and scrawls
a brutal truth skyward.



©2016 Clare L. Martin

Embryonic Self

“Embryonic Self*,” mixed media, by Clare L. Martin



A tree held in its branches
a womb that carried me.
My strong heart
beat brilliant red
through fluid translucence.
A thick cord
connected me to roots
of the tree
into the blood
of the earth.

Who knew I would experience
such sorrow, such joy
once born into the world?




*Dedicated to Bessie Senette.

Clare L. Martin ©2016



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.

  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.





©2015 Clare L. Martin

Report from the Front-line (Acadiana Wordlab 8-31-13)

On Saturday, August 31st, I presented a workshop at Acadiana Wordlab, which is a literary drafting workshop directed by poet Jonathan Penton, Editor in Chief of Unlikely Stories. This was the second time I was a presenter and I was very excited for the opportunity. When planning the presentation, I wanted to aim for the “heart of the matter” and present something “meaty” and challenging to the writers that would be conducive to creative breakthrough. Apparently that was the right thing to do, because as evidenced by the examples of raw writing produced by participants, some brave, necessary, and inspired writing occurred.

I am sharing the prompts that I presented to the group and also the poem with which I began the presentation. The poem, “What We Carry” struck me as a good example to use as a prompt, as the lines could be interpreted individually since it is an “image list,” and because, as I said at Wordlab, everything we carry, even the smallest thing, has weight.

The seriousness of the business we are in was apparent by the tone of many of the pieces. I was struck by the imaginativeness and near creative ferociousness of much of the writing. I asked participants to relinquish their burdens to the page. That is not an easy thing to do and I don’t know how deep our writers went, but I was struck by how brave everyone was and by the level of trust which has deepened among many regular attendants of Wordlab.

Through the process of creative experiment/ group writing the participants made the active choice to begin new artifices. I believe we are ultimately transformed on a multiplicity of levels in striking and valuable ways through this process, and for this reason I am grateful to be an Acadiana Wordlab participant, and occasional presenter.

More information on Acadiana Wordlab, its meeting schedule and opportunities to be a participant or presenter can be found here:

Thanks to Jonathan and all of the participants for your trust and courage.

I am sharing this poem and the prompts as an educational offering. If you choose to use them for yourself, have fun. If you choose to present them to a class, please credit me. If you would like me to present a workshop to a group, I can be contacted at


broken bottles
and rusted things

gasoline-soaked rags
a knife wet with blood

the tail feather
of a rooster

sewing needles
a burnt match

a fistful of sins

the stain of roses
a storm of horses

letters from the dead

all in solemnity
all in solemnity

embodied in the sunken hull—
itself, an ocean

Clare L. Martin


What do the dead speak? What murmurs under water, or sputters from a mouth full of dirt? What name is on their lips? What resonance in their bones permeates our conscious living? I am the dead. I am in them. I dream their lilting, cold bodies, the slack musculature, and the worm-heaven of their putrefied skulls. Sing to me of the dead, their wishes and their folly. Sing to me their misery and what is seen through their maimed glares. The dead linger here and we must hear them. The dead have something to say. What is it?


Recall one object/thing in your bedroom. It could be a memento, a gift, something you mean to discard but have not, even the covering of dust on the furniture. Describe it in detail. Describe it with love or hate. What is its significance or insignificance to you? What will you do with/to it in the future?


Write a letter to a part of your body. It could be a love letter, a Dear John, an apology, or a revelation of a secret.


You are given a magic seed. The seed can grow into anything—what is this seed and what will it become? How will you cultivate it? Does this seed change your existence?


Imagine a mist. Imagine it clouding your sight, leaving your skin wet, filling your lungs. Something emerges from the mist. What is it? What does it mean to you?


Before your death, before your last breath, you are given one wish. What is this wish? You may or may not choose to write what this wish is. Consider the implications of your death and the lasting effect of your wish.


Write about something that you wish to forget. Explore the emotions of the experience and why you want to forget this experience so desperately. End your piece with one sentence stating one thing you desperately need/want to remember.

Clare L. Martin