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

Ten Years

Adam 2002

March 15th, 2004 will mark ten years since my son Adam’s death.

As I compose this blog post so many thoughts are in my head. His conception, my struggle with motherhood at 15 years old, learning that he was disabled, coming to a place of acceptance of that fact and becoming the mother he needed and that I needed to be to him up to the time of his death.

I am thinking about my mother and I going to Wal-Mart to pick out his burial clothes.  Towards the end of his life, maybe the last two years, he only wore hospital gowns. We had to guess at his size when picking the blue dress shirt and slacks. The clothes were too large and the mortuary staff pinned the clothes to fit his frail and unusually small body.

I have said this before, that writing has saved my life. But even more so, the people in my life have saved my life. My parents did not abandon me. They supported me through my pregnancy and saw me through college. They cared for Adam when I could not and that in itself is a miraculous thing.

Adam had many caregivers from the time of his birth and the four months in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, through the years he lived at home with us and from the special human-angels on staff at Louisiana Special Education Center in Alexandria, Louisiana. I know that each and every human that came in contact with Adam was guided by the Divine to see his special and loving nature. Adam taught us more than we could have ever taught him. His disability brought us to understanding, humility and tenderness. We are better for having known him. I am better for having been touched by his gracious life.

Ten years of dedication to the Writing Life. Ten years from March 15th, 2004, the day Adam died. My husband and I were on our way to the hospital to attend to him when I got the call from Dr. Buck that Adam’s heart gave out during a procedure to place a medi-port in him to give him antivirals that were maybe going to save his life.

But we knew he was dying. Adam suffered the last several months of his life with pneumonia and septicemia. The last time I saw him he was surrounded by ice because his fever was 108 degrees and rising. My God! How did he live for as long as he did in that horrible state?  A few days after he died, I wrote the poem “Ice to Water.”  That poem was the most difficult thing to conjure, and was written through tears, but it saved me.

My being is attuned to love. Even when I am fighting I love my way through the pain. I have had to fight all of my life for self-love, for personal justice, and for reclamation. Ten years of writing and seeking mastery of myself through the work. Ten years of working through grief, working in grief—astounding and excruciating grief. I have gone so far on the path but I am still here mourning.

I was just lying in bed talking to my husband. We were talking about his work and my work. I have made very little money in all these years, but the small amount I have made has been spent on my family. We struggle but my poetry money has made a difference when we needed a tank of gas, a pizza, or a few groceries. As I was talking, my sorrow arose and I cried. Something new is causing me grief, a new disillusionment as I continue on the path.

I have put out so much energy to write, to get published, and to grow a career in a field that does not reward in the ways we recognize as success in this world. That didn’t really bother me all along. My perspective was that this is a holy vocation and I was honoring my gifts but somewhere along the way I got conned. I began thinking of commerce and exchange—what was I getting in return? This led to a deep sadness and more tears.

In this moment, as I reflect on the passing of my son, as I write about just a few details of his incredible life, I am brought back to the reason I committed myself so deeply to this path. Honor. I wanted to honor Adam’s memory, honor my gifts, and honor the people in my life. That I was able to succeed in gaining an audience was gratifying but the whole and holy purpose was, is and always will be for me is the “creative love” in the act of writing itself. I say creative love because my creativity/love is what brought me this far and I will not lose sight of it again.

There are many projects that I bring my energy to and I will continue to do so, but if these projects become grueling or dissatisfying, I will give them up. It is not a difficult thing for me to do at all. I am not paid for any of it, except the money I might receive from selling a book here and there. I am not concerned with a “career” because what is that? I am concerned with the creative act and the product, not so much my stature anymore. I am concerned with leaving a legacy of love, and my energies will be focused from this point forward on projects and people who are aligned with this mission.

Peace.

Flight

blackbird

I stand on the edge of a cliff. I believe with all of my being I can fly, (because it takes belief and not wings).  I stand on my tiptoes and stretch. I raise my arms to the sky, draw in breath and ready to soar: one two three— I am not. I am not rising in the air.  I try a different approach. I bend to the ground. Focus the muscles of my back and thighs, tighten my toes.  I tighten my whole body to my body: a coil ready to spring.  Up, and down again. The sky opens. Three crows form a triangle in a deep blue patch. Third attempt: I climb onto a rock. The rock is not flat and I teeter to balance. I desire to fly so desperately; to free myself from the burden of ground. The sorrow of my flightlessness turns to storm. Dark clouds gather in my torso. My arms crackle with lightning. The sky is smoldering black.   Rock upon rock of disbelief weights me. I will never fly. I will never be apart from dead ground. Flags of smoke and flame; the brush and fallen trees ablaze— Frantic fire in my path = no escape. A crow, impossibly large, swoons above me then drops.  On its magnificent black back, it takes me up, up and away.

Acadiana Wordlab product 2-1-14
© 2014 CLM

Skipping Stones

Lake Stones

I have seen a stone, a flat and colorful lake pebble, skipped seven times on the surface of a body of water. That is the measure of how well we skip stones, by how many skips you can get.  A man leaned in, his body angled to the lake, and with a quick and sharp swing and flick he let loose the stone. His arm followed through to the sky and I fell in love with him then, for his skill and patience. For his determination to make that smooth rock glide, touch and rise, glide, touch and rise upon the water.

He is good enough now, but once I saw him throw the cat across the room because it scratched him. (I cannot be pressed to testify but I needed to tell someone).  If he could have earned a living from skipping stones maybe he would be happy. If he had a loving father who had skipped stones with him, well maybe then, too, he would be happy. I cannot say what I feel for him: partly because I do not know and partly because I will not tell.

This blue pebble from Lake MacDonald in Glacier National Park, MT has kept me well and I have kept it well for a dozen years. I press it hard between my forefinger and thumb and it holds back the tears. But sometimes when I hold it, the tears come forcefully and I can only grip the pebble hard. My fingernails cut through the flesh of my palm.

Acadiana Wordlab product 2-1-14
© 2014 CLM

Word by Word

I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.  –Anne Morrow Lindberg

Writing saves my life every day. Word by word, I have clawed my way out of myriad hells. Tragedy after tragedy, writing has brought about resolution and clarity for me.  In more peaceful times writing has centered me, shaped my living, brought my self into greater focus and allowed me to express passion. I am writing it all out, at any cost. I do not believe it is sacrifice. It is necessary and vital for my survival. Without it I would become completely undone.

Writers investigate this life. We follow words wherever they lead: to the seaside houses painted blue, to the lioness teaching her cubs to hunt, to the paper cut, to the oceans of grief within us, to the dying star. The greatest gift a writer can give another human is truth. It is a mysterious thing to “get there” via language. I am not sure I can explain it. There is a path, though, and I can point you to it.

You need:

1) a comprehension of a language
2) certain instruments with which to write
3) the will to do the work
4) the curiosity to investigate what is below the surface
5) time

Believe you have something to say and go forth. Your skill will improve and you will perpetuate a habit. Your investigations will produce evidence of what I speak of, that elusive but very real thing: truth.

About process: I start with a blank page and put words on it. That is it. I don’t get bogged down. Sometimes I play creative games. Whatever works. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I don’t give it credence. Write. Do it.  Respect it and respect yourself for doing it.

Productivity, Wordlab, and a work-in-progress

Before Acadiana Wordlab was founded in 2012, I was pretty productive but I was at a weird point on my writing path.  The book had just come out and I was a bit aimless. So much time was devoted to preparing the manuscript, seeing Eating the Heart First into publication and promoting it, I was off when it came to daily writing.  At first I thought I didn’t need or want to be in a “writing group” and was actually a bit scared to write raw in a group. I was wrong. Acadiana Wordlab has helped me to go places in my writing I never would have ventured, and I am a much “looser” writer when it comes to first getting words onto paper. Also, the multiple creative approaches afforded by the variety of artist-presenters have opened my mind. This has probably created new neural pathways/tapped into other areas of my brain which has only strengthened my writing skills.  People in attendance vary week to week but our core group has become pretty tight. It’s is a safe place to create.  We are writing new. I am writing new and that is the most valuable thing to me.

Each week after a session of Acadiana Wordlab, I take the raw writing and work the words. I usually get at least one new poem or a somewhat cohesive draft out of the writing done in the literary drafting workshop. This past week, I led the workshop and the themes we explored were mortality and darkness. It shouldn’t have surprised me that I was terribly depressed Sunday. The darkness broke for me, thankfully. Today I worked on what I began in Saturday’s Wordlab. The following poem/draft is actually a compilation of the three distinct bits of writing. It is a work-in-progress. What is interesting to me is that I am pushing  through to stylistic breakthroughs.  I am going in new directions and that thrills.

The lessons I presented on Saturday can be seen at the link below. The item I chose from the small batch of “mementos” was a crucifix.

1-25-14 Acadiana Wordlab (click for the prompts/exercises)

The Hanging Woman

breathes desert into her throat
Golgotha-naked

rapacious sun
spear opens rib

the most egregious of transgressions
lust inside/out

lungs vigilant flag
serpentine intestine

nailed-out muscles
Heaven’s jaw shuts

borne upon the cross
we cannot willfully die

the women tear at their smocks
sun goes

to terminal moonrise
burnt to bone

new meanings of the body impaled;

all sensation thrust
from pleasured skin

blade to stone
stone to bone

bone to blood night
incarnated, excarnated.

©2014 CLM

Clare’s presentation at Acadiana Wordlab 1-25-14

Margaret Simon who blogs at Reflections on the Teche asked me for the prompts I gave at Acadiana Wordlab yesterday because she couldn’t attend. She is a dedicated and talented poet who always challenges herself, even when she can’t be with us for Wordlab.

Here you go, Margaret!

Memento Mori

A memento mori (Latin ‘remember that you will die’) is an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death.

There are items before you: a key, a wedding band, a butterfly, a Thunderbird, a crucifix, an empty journal, a mask, and a broken watch. Choose one and write how this is a symbol of your mortality.

MEMENTO MORI

A man walks across water
on stones. Notices a crow
sinking in the blue sky.
He steps onto earth,
leaning momentarily
against a cedar sapling.
Pines etch and sway.
The creek laughs. The man thinks
of endings and beginnings—
his youngest daughter’s
daisy-eyes.
He slips his hand into his pocket,
fingering the dry skull
of a hummingbird. And it is cold
spring again: the iridescent
hummingbird is caught
in a spider’s web.
The spider silk enwrapping
the tiny bird holds bones together.
He picks at the feathers
sodden with rot.
He opens like a fan
the thin-as-paper wings.
Bones disarrayed, drift
to the ground in silence.

©CLM First published in Press 1.

Dark Hours

I LOVE THE DARK HOURS OF MY BEING
by Rainer Maria Rilke

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that’s wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots
embrace:

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.

Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

  • What do you love about the dark hours of your being?
  • How does darkness impact and affect us?
  • Do you access a different knowledge within the dark hours of your being?

Darkness can be comforting or disturbing. Write something of darkness, whether it is a setting or a place within you, or the darker aspects of your being.

I had a third exercise which was simply about writing out emotions or events with emotional impact in metaphor to “disguise” the actual facts, but to get at truth.

If anyone decides to use these prompts, please credit me and let me know!  Thanks and be well!
Clare

The Writing Life –2013

Each December, since I began The Writing Life in 2004, I have compiled a year-end list of happenings and achievements.  Here’s what I can remember, with the help of calendars and emails, of 2013. These are just bullet points, really. The work involved kept me extremely busy. And most importantly, I have continued the real work of writing, achieving stylistic breakthroughs that are infusing my new work. I continue to follow the words.

What a year! I have left burnt rubber behind me.

New and Continuing Activities
NEW! Editor, MadHat Lit
NEW! Poetry Editor, MadHat Annual
NEW! Co-coordinator, Acadiana Wordlab

Founder, Director Voices Seasonal Readings Series at Carpe Diem, 2012-present
Teaching Artist, Acadiana Center for the Arts, 2011- present
Coordinator, Words of Fire, Words of Water, the literary component of the Fire and Water Rural Arts Celebration in Arnaudville, LA, December 2012- present

Publications

“Of Lint,” after LUBA ZYGAREWICZ’s “Petrified Time: 12 Years of My Life, Folded and Neatly Stacked,” sculpture/stacked dryer lint, tags and rope, Louisiana Aesthetic

“Naked” Verse Daily February 9th

“4 Signs Your Heart is Quietly Failing” Technoculture (text and audio)

“The Bird in My Ribcage” Swamp Lily (reprint)

As We Are” and “The Bird in My Ribcage” Vision/Verse Anthology

Four poems featured on former Poet Laureate of Louisiana, Darrell Bourque’s radio program “From the Poet’s Bookshelf” which airs on KRVS www.krvs.org

Public Readings

Rosa Keller Library, New Orleans, Louisiana

Voices Seasonal Reading Series, Lafayette, LA

Café Mosaic, LSU-E Reading Series, Eunice, LA

Midwinter Poetry Night, A & E Gallery, New Iberia, LA

Festival of Words Reading Series, Grand Coteau, LA

Asheville Word Fest, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Asheville, NC

Le Mot, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA

River Writers Reading Series, Baton Rouge, LA

Words of Fire/Words of Water, Arnaudville, LA

Blood Jet Poetry Series, New Orleans, Louisiana

Etc.

Presented “A World of Words: Express Yourself!” to 9th – 12th Graders at Northside High School

Interviewed for “The Extra Mile” on Acadiana Open Channel