Blog Tour: Process Talk

 

 

 

What are you working on?

I am working on a second manuscript of poetry with hopes for a second book. When Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012) was done and out in the world, I was consumed with promotion of it and became less structured/focused in my writing time. Happily though, Acadiana Wordlab had just formed that same month and regular attendance counted for me getting writing done.  The weekly sessions got me refocused and recharged. I am indebted to Jonathan Penton (Google him) for his vision and work that made this great community/activity thrive. I am the coordinator now, as Jonathan has moved onto other projects. My involvment gives me great pleasure. I give and receive. I am amazed by the wonderful writers who are growing in the Acadiana community and around our state. I have many new poems that have come out of the AW drafting sessions that will hopefully make it into the manuscript.

I have a working title for the manuscript: Broken Jesus.  That title comes from a line in my poem, “Convergence,” which appeared in Louisiana Literature, but the image itself comes from a black and white photograph of a broken marble statue of Jesus on the cross at an abandoned church. Ralph J Schexnaydre, Jr. took that photo back in the 1980s.  The image appeared on the cover of the first literary magazine in which my work was published, my university’s journal, The Southwestern Review.

I still have that journal issue (it came out in 1989, 25 years ago) but sadly Ralph doesn’t have the image anymore. I would have asked him to allow me to use it. I do have in my house a crucifix that was my grandmother’s and grandfather’s that is broken. A limb is missing from Jesus, and perhaps I can have someone photograph it for me down the road as the manuscript shapes up.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

The work I am drawn to, the poetry that enlivens me is work that is finely crafted, visceral, meaningful, daring, brave, honest, sharp, and lyrical and I hope that my work is these things. I want to be a dauntless writer. I want to be writing new always: pushing myself, going deeper, going harder and reaching more deeply into you, the reader. I don’t know how else to answer this question because if I am not gripped by a poet’s language, attention to craft, willingness to rend hearts and punch guts, with an almost nameless kind of love for you at the same time, I usually put the book down.

Why do you write what you do?

I write to move other human beings with my words.

How does your writing process work?

I used to be strictly tied to typing rather than writing in longhand but since I have been a devotee of Acadiana Wordlab’s mostly pen-to-paper process, I am more attuned to my hands, albeit in a different way than typing letter by letter. This is something new and fun for me, to write out drafts in notebooks. It’s something I had truly not practiced except for note-taking since getting a typewriter, then a word processor, then a computer. The words are moving from my brain to my hands but my hands know more than my mouth does.

In my at-home practice, I usually start with a free-write. I don’t wait for inspiration but because I am a constant reader, I am inspired daily.  Also, those ephemeral voices (that may become lines of poetry) are a grace to which I am sharply attuned.  (It can cause problems to live so far up into your head but I manage to be grounded). A word or phrase may come to me while eating buttered grits or taking a bath, and I get up, write it down, and follow where it leads. I have rushed out of the bath naked (they’ve all seen me naked around here) and gotten on the computer to get words down.  My short term memory is weakening I think.  I also might need to get my bathrobe out of the closet.

Sometimes if I am driving and a line comes, I will pull over and voice-record it on my phone.   But the question of writing process beyond the mechanics of actually writing is that I firmly hold that I cannot call myself a writer if I am not writing. I don’t feel I deserve that name if I am not doing it in some way, and I count many ways: letter-writing, journaling, creative writing, and emails—they qualify too, if they are creatively inspired.

For many years my only writing was letter writing and it was necessary for me to have that one person as an audience.  The three friends I wrote to on a regular basis are now deceased but really I owe them deep thanks for enjoying my letters and writing back. Those correspondences saved me and my writing career, whatever that is or will be, because it kept me writing. Those friends kept me writing and encouraged my writing when my days were black pages.

 

 

*Thank you to Margaret Gibson Simon for tagging me in this fun and challenging effort to enlighten others about our ways and whys of writing. She can be read at Reflections on the Teche

 

I am tagging:

Mashael (I am air)

Helen Losse

Mona AlvaradoFrazier

Participate if you like and link back here!  I will link to you, if you are inclined to play along.

Be well, friends.

Clare

Path

Path

 

I used to say emphatically  that “I am on a path and I do not allow much to divert me from it,” but the diversions can be good if we circle back to ourselves.

I am on a path inward through the new meditation habit I am developing. Aligned with this path is the writing path: the path that I turn to, turn inwardly toward my deepest self, to process what is in my head and to create. This divine alignment has brought me to more deeply investigate and connect to something unknowable. I have turned my heart away from my own supposed desires, and toward the Divine Whatever which is in all things.

I have been, perhaps, delusional for some time. An example of this crazy thinking is that I would think that if I made choice A, that life would become something that I thought I desired, deserved or expected. I have no clue if such choices would produce the desired results, or would have been true in any of my life choices up to this point. In reality, we can never know if we “made the right decision” until time has passed and we see ourselves and outcomes retrospectively. Sometimes the Universe/Divine Whatever gives us a heads up and we understand that we have dodged a bullet, sometimes not.

Recently I talked with a friend about some heaviness I had been experiencing. I had a fatalistic view about my situation and was very gloomy. My friend had much more optimism than I did and he said, “There are no guarantees.”  This could be taken in the negative, but really he meant it and I took it in the positive sense that all my imaginings and some of my insights were not certain or final, and that perhaps what had been weighing on my heart would resolve in a beneficial way.  He gave me optimism and a bit of hope. Still, I dare not hope too much and pray only for peace and divine light to be cast on this perceived darkness.

I am an all-feeling human, thank goodness, and mostly make my decisions based on heart-matters rather than using my head. But I want to be a mature adult and think through things and not rush headlong into who-knows-what, even though my enthusiasm for life and following my heart has taken me to wild and wonderful places.  I think in the past year, I have learned many necessary lessons the hard way. Good lessons, and I have not backslid into unrestrained heart-following that often leaves me broken. But I do believe in trusting my own intuitive spirit in my “heart of hearts” and trusting that I am cared for by the Divine Whatever. The new adult in me  is being more cautious. She is thinking, weighing and planning. She is forgiving and asking for forgiveness. These are good and reasonable things. I am finding needed balance, but more importantly, I am turning away from anxious attempts to make things happen that I perceive as the way things must be. As my friend D. says, “It is what it is.” I am letting whatever “it” is be what it *is* and letting go of my tight grasp to control.

I am on a path. I am walking it in a forward direction. I will certainly “sight-see” along the way. I am less rigid, more accepting, more peaceful and thorough it all I am stretching my heart to more openness–even after hurt, even after disappointment in other people and myself.  Having the courage to open our hearts after hurt is perhaps one of our most vital lessons and elevates us as human beings.

I am more me, more grounded. And I love you, myself and this life very much.  Peace.

Clare

 

 

Getting Clean

 

I took an hour from my day for quiet outdoors. I gazed into the slow current of the Vermilion Bayou from the vantage point of a deck overlooking the bayou at a local park.  Thin limbs floated in line with thatch and fallen leaves. Trees, on the opposite bank, were reflected in the muddy water and swayed against watery sky.

I couldn’t help thinking of my father and cried a bit. He knew this bayou well. He had fished and boated in it when he was a boy, and as an adult, he frequently he traveled it down all the way to the Vermilion Bay to get to Cypremort Point.  We had a camp there for a time when my brother and I were small children.

My father almost drowned in the Vermilion. I wrote a poem about it, “Father Almost Drowning” that first appeared in Poets & Artists and is collected in Eating the Heart First. On my father’s casket, we displayed another poem I had written about his life. In the quiet moments of this exceptional spring afternoon, I thought of how much my father has done for me since his death.

I believe we are spirits in flesh.  My father’s spirit has gently cautioned me at various times when I was running headlong into harmful choices or getting involved in matters that were detrimental. I truly believe our dead loved ones are protectors and guides.  So, I reflected on him and his otherworldly wisdom, and gave myself over to the Divine Whatever.

I knew I was being called to water today. This morning when I was bathing, I thought of one summer weekend that we had spent at the camp at Cypremort Point. There are so many memories, but this particular memory was of a time that we went to church barefoot. It was a moment that really caused great distress for me. As I recall, our shoes were wet and muddy from play. My mother wouldn’t allow us to wear them to church. That Sunday morning, we had our baths and dressed in clean summer clothes but my mom wouldn’t let us put the dirty shoes on.

I remember looking at my bare feet as I sat in the pew feeling self-conscious and strange. I looked up insistently at my mother for some kind of calm and she whispered, “God just cares that you are clean.”  I laugh at this because clean or dirty, I believe we are cared for. It was a moment that made me actually laugh out loud this morning as I was getting clean.

And I am “getting clean” in other ways. I am de-cluttering my head, cleaning the metaphorical window that offers in/out views. Even though I always have meditative moments in my bath ritual, and have sporadically used relaxation techniques and meditation techniques for years, I had not set forth to actually practice on a daily basis. Now it is a priority for me. My new steps in “getting clean” are practicing mindfulness, setting aside two-half hours for meditation, going to church when no services are being held just to sit in silence, and joining up with a group that meets for meditation.

To quiet ourselves and find the silence within, allows for changes in perspective and deeper perceptions. In these silences, images and ideas for poetry are flooding in and I have greater access to the deeper parts of myself that lend wisdom to incorporate into creative writing. It was really cool that a few weeks ago Margaret Gibson Simon (who blogs at Reflections on the Teche) led a meditation writing workshop at Acadiana Wordlab. I always long to go deeper, and I do, obviously, when I am writing and “in the zone.”

All in all, I feel energized, new, and more deeply committed to myself, my people and the Divine Whatever. I wish you peace and wellness.

Clare

P.S. I saw the trailer for David Lynch’s documentary, “Meditation, Creativity, Peace” http://meditationcreativitypeace.com/   and I really want to see it. There is a form on the website that offers anyone to send a message if you want to coordinate a screening in your hometown. I am thinking about it!

If you would like to experience something great go to http://www.meditationoasis.com/ I have been using this particular site for about a week.

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.

Out of sorrow beautiful things may come.

In June, I will lead a poetry project through the Recovery Academy* with women clients of Acadiana Outreach. What I hope to achieve in the nine sessions is to give participants, through  structured, weekly creative writing workshops, tools to strengthen their ability to name thoughts and emotions and convey them artistically, and poem-making skills which may lead to positive breakthroughs and life-happenings by tapping into the resilience of the creative mind.

By offering skill-building creative writing exercises and prompts, sharing empowering literary works, and allowing for free-writing time, I hope to inspire participants to be able to create something beautiful, honest and uniquely their own through the craft of poetry. By creating a safe and nurturing atmosphere in our group sessions, I hope the participants will have the assurance to reach into their creative minds to find deeper self-awareness, keys to success, and possibly true healing.

In my own personal experience, creative writing has led me out of despair, allowed me to express joy and love in sensory, beautiful language, and come to a place where I feel honored to be me. It is my hope that participants will find their “true voices” via new creative skills that may give rise to creative problem-solving in circumstances they face in their everyday lives.

Art is vital and necessary, and creative acts are transformative. We can transform. We can rise above and live in hope. The positive effects of writing our very lives can lead one out of places of darkness. I believe that through creative writing, through the process of discovery and poetic documentation, we can find our way, recover and thrive.

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” —Anais Nin

I am committing to this project enthusiastically to be able to interact with these women, lead them to new awareness and appreciation for poetry as a vital tool of self-expression. I am committed to the work, and have great hope for this project.

*Recovery Academy 2014 will present local poet Clare L. Martin in a series of workshops focusing on poetry as a transformative process culminating in a reading at Theatre 810, the site of “Off the Streets.” The workshops will be from 7 to 9 pm, at the Outreach facility June 2; June 9; June 16; June 23; June 30 and July 7; July 14; and July 21, all in 2014. The project will conclude with a public reading by the client-poets at Theatre 810 on July 28, 2014 hosted by Clare herself at 7 pm concluding at 9 pm.

See you in Seattle!

Events at AWP at which Clare will appear.  See you in Seattle!

 

AWP 1

 

MadHat & Plume Present: an off-site reading at the AWP

Friday, February 28th, 2014 @ 6 pm to 9 pm
Taphouse Bar & Grill Seattle
1506 6th ave, Seattle, Washington 98101

Featured poets:

Robin Behn
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Jim Daniels
Mark Irwin
Katia Kapovich
Amy King
Clare L. Martin
Philip Nikolayev
Nava Renek
David Rivard
Jill Rosser
Bernd Sauermann
Tod Thilleman
Yuriy Tarnawsky
Rosanna Warren

and appearances by your hosts, Marc Vincenz, Jonathan Penton, and Daniel Lawless

Book-signings by Clare L. Martin

Eating_the_Heart_First_Cover FB

On Thursday, February 27th and Friday, February 28th from 3-4:00 pm (both days) poet Clare L. Martin will sign copies of Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012) at the Press 53/Prime Number Magazine table (CC 35-36). Copies of Eating the Heart First will be available at the Press 53 table in limited quantity.

And on Saturday, March 1st from 11 am – 12:00 pm, Clare will sign copies of Eating the Heart First and Vision/Verse 2009-2013: An Anthology of Poetry (Yellow Flag Press) at the Yellow Flag Press table (K 21) Copies of Eating the Heart First will be available at the Yellow Flag Press table in limited quantity.

VV

Vision/Verse 2009-2013: An Anthology of Poetry

Featured poets:

Lou Amyx
Maya Beerbower
Jacob Blevins
Darrell Bourque
Steven Brown
Elizabeth Burk
Kolleen Carney
William Lusk Coppage
Rita D. Costello
Kevin Dwyer
S. B. Ferguson
Amy Fleury
J. Bruce Fuller
Trèe George
Rodney Gomez
Ashley Mace Havird
David Havird
Ava Leavell Haymon
Mary Hughes
Hillary Joubert
Julie Kane
Clare L. Martin
Erica McCreedy
Andrew McSorley
Patrice Melnick
Stella Ann Nesanovich
Jan Rider Newman
Angelina Oberdan
Philana Omorotionmwan
M. Rather, Jr.
Michael Shewmaker
M. E. Silverman
Kevin Thomason

 

The 2014 AWP Bookfair is located on Level 4 of the Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place in Seattle.

Breathe

She pours the lavender bath salts into the tub under hot running water, lights one dark candle and steps out of her dress and panties. The tea is hot but not too hot: cinnamon spice, fragrant orange. The bathwater is piping hot; she steps in with both feet but then does a little dance, one foot up and one foot down. She lowers herself into the bath. Her thighs redden. A joint would be great right now but it has been years since she smoked pot, let alone had any in her possession. Maybe legal pot will come here. She has a medical necessity. Ah, yes. Perfect. The hot water, the tea, the soothing scents, the candlelight—she turns down the volume of her thoughts and arouses a new mind.

©2014 CLM

This piece was generated at the February 8th, 2014 Acadiana Wordlab led by George Marks. More info on Acadiana Wordlab can be found here: www.acadianawordlab.org 

Tommy

This is what people who love each other do.  When you have a husband, he will want to do this to you. Tommy unbuttoned my pants and slid his hand down. We were in my room and he had put a chair up against the door and was sitting in it. I told Tommy no and he pulled a beautiful watch out of thin air. I bought this for you. The watch was gold-faced and had a thick, opaque-plastic white bracelet band. I adored it. You can keep it as long as you don’t tell anyone. I wanted that watch.  It was fashionable and meant for a stylish lady. Tommy kissed me.  He slipped his tongue between my lips. I felt awful and said no. You will like it. I said no. Tommy stood up and moved the chair. Okay. I will come over another time. You keep the watch.  Next time I will bring something else for you. Something you will love. I was confused and worried but excited too. What would he bring me? Tommy left. I showed my mother, who had been visiting a neighbor, the watch. It looked classy on my wrist. I felt important and glamorous. I don’t think I told her any of the details of what Tommy did to me. I was supposed to not tell. But my mother panicked and called Tommy’s mother. She did some detective work and found out that Tommy had stolen the watch from the mother of one of his friends. My mother took away the watch. I was very upset. It was mine. I cried for days because of how the loss of that watch made me, a first grader, feel.  I was angry with my mother for taking away the watch for a long, long time.

©2014 CLM

February Events

Clare reading.

Upcoming Events, Readings and Book-Signings

We Wanted to Be Writers excerpted ten poems from the collection if you would like to read samples of my work. Here is the direct link: http://wewantedtobewriters.com/2014/01/excerpt-from-clare-martins-poetry-collection/

February

“Acting Unlimited Pop-Up Poetry Theatre”
6:15 pm to 7:15 pm, at the Second Saturday Art Walk
(by the statue of General Mouton across from Theater 810, Downtown Lafayette, LA)
Featured poets will be:
Darrell Bourque
James Blanchard
James McDowell (a.k.a. J.K. McDowell)
J Bruce Fuller
Carol Rice
Clare L. Martin

A&E Poetry Night 
Friday, February 14th, 2014
6 pm – til
Featuring:
Bonny McDonald and Clare L. Martin
hosted by Margaret Gibson Simon
A&E Gallery
335 W St Peter St, New Iberia, LA 70560

Voices Seasonal Reading Series:

Wednesday, February 19th at 7 pm the winter installment of the Voice Seasonal Reading Series will feature a special evening of literary readings by poets Clare L. Martin and Diane Moore at Carpe Diem! Gelato – Espresso Bar. 812 Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette, LA. The public is invited to enjoy gelato, espresso, tea, and pastries while experiencing a unique and enlightening literary event. The event also celebrates the two-year anniversary of this highly successful reading series in Lafayette.

AWP Conference Events, Seattle Washington

MadHat Annual (formerly Mad Hatters’ Review) and the Plume Anthology of Poetry 2013 present:
Friday, February 28th, 2014 @ 6 pm to 9 pm
Tap House Grill, 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA

Robin Behn
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Jim Daniels
Mark Irwin
Katia Kapovich
Amy King
Clare L. Martin
Philip Nikolayev
Nava Renek
David Rivard
Jill Rosser
Bernd Sauermann
Tod Thilleman
Yuriy Tarnawsky
Rosanna Warren

and appearances by your hosts, Marc Vincenz, Jonathan Penton, and Daniel Lawless

Thursday, February 27th and Friday, February 28th from 3-4 pm (both days) at the Press 53 Table for the AWP Bookfair. Tables CC 35-36 (Press 53/Prime Number) Copies of Eating the Heart First will be available at the Press 53 table in limited quantity. If you would like to purchase the book ahead of time for me to sign, you can find online ordering info here: https://clarelmartin.com/buy-eating-the-heart-first/

More dates TBA

*Additional dates are being arranged now. To book Clare for a poetry reading or book-signing, please email martin.clarel@gmail.com or call (337) 962-5886