2017: My Writing Life in Review



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.

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Whew! Despite boughts of severe depression and financial trauma, I am so proud to say that I am sharing my gifts with the world.

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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.


Clare at 17 Poets! at The Goldmine In The French Quarter, New Orleans


I was honored to be one of the features at The Goldmine in the French Quarter for the 17 Poets! Series on Thursday, November 15th. Great thanks to Dave Brinks and Megan Burns for the honor and for being such wonderful hosts.

I am a big girl but I do not like to travel alone. My Vice-BFF Lian accepted my invite to travel with me, and for this I am grateful. Lian acted as my navigator and deejay on the way to New Orleans. We took HWY 90 East to New Orleans which I prefer over traveling I-10. I-1o makes me nervous. Pile-ups and 100 mph’ers make me nervous. HWY 90 (the Future 1-49 Corridor) is scenic and chill. On our way to NOLA we listened to a mix CD Lian made for me for my birthday a few years ago (we have been friends for 8 years) Jill Scott, and Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark.” It was good groovin’ on HWY 90, let me tell you.

We arrived at our hotel at approximately 7 pm which was perfect timing. We chilled and freshened up then caught at cab at about 7:30 pm. The reading was set for 8 pm but really we had plenty of time because we were in the cosmic groove.  New Orleans is in The Cosmic Groove.

Our cabbie was from Haiti and didn’t feel like talking. He got us there and we paid him well. When we walked in the door of The Goldmine we got a big hug from Dave. It was great to see him again. Dave is an accomplished poet and a very generous soul. He and Megan read for the Voices Seasonal Reading Series in the summer. Dave told me that drinks were complimentary for the “features” and I wondered if I would out-drink my welcome. He laughed at that.

I ordered a Wild Turkey 101 and water. It was very good and knocked the chill and nervousness right out of me. We met poet Deborah Poe and her colleagues from New York. After we settled in a booth, we got to talking with these lovelies about our Cajun culture, which Lian and I are both very passionate about. I hope we gave a good impression because we want to be good ambassadors for Acadiana. We talked about boudin and cracklins and crawfish and we gave the New Yorkers an open invitation to Acadiana for any future travels these women may make to Louisiana.

I went on first. I was happy to read from “Eating the Heart First” in a place that has a 50 year tradition of hosting poetry events. I felt empowered and inspired. I selected several poems that lend themselves well to public readings. I interspersed a few personal narratives between the poems. I kept the reading tight and gave thanks for the audience’s kind attention and applause.

I read “The Never That Was” and one line is the lyric “blackbird fly, blackbird fly” which I actually sing when performing the poem. I love reading/performing this poem. It is an opportunity for me to channel my inner Rock Star. Who knows? Maybe one day I will front a band.

I was well-received by the generous, supportive audience. I bounced back to our booth and listened intently to Deborah’s and Matvei Yankelevich’s readings. Both are superb poets and gave entertaining and powerful readings.

Lian and I stayed for the Open Mic and whooped and hollered in appreciation for the people who stepped up. That’s just how we are. We live big wherever we are. It was an impressive night all-around, ending with a great breakfast at midnight, then sleep in comfy Queen-sized beds. We are already planning a return to NOLA with more friends and will certainly pop in at The Goldmine to say hello.