Clare L. Martin, Jonathan Penton and Marc Vincenz
Clare L. Martin, Jonathan Penton and Marc Vincenz
Upcoming Events, Readings and Book-Signings*
Voices Seasonal Reading Series:
Gina Ferrara, Matthew Hardin Hofferek and Carol Rice
(event hosted by Clare)
November 13th @ 7 pm
Carpe Diem Gelato-Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA
Poetry Reading by Marc Vincenz, Jonathan Penton and Clare L. Martin
Thursday, November 14th @ 7pm
Boudreaux and Thibodeaux’s Baton Rouge, LA
Poetry Reading by Clare L. Martin
November 21st @ 7 pm
Café Mosaic, 202 S. 2nd Street, Eunice, Louisiana
Poetry Readings by Clare L. Martin and Jonathan Penton
The Blood Jet Poetry Series
November 27th@ 8 pm
BJ’s in the Bywater, 4301 Burgundy, New Orleans, LA
Poetry Reading by Clare L. Martin
December 5th @ 7 pm
Joie de Vivre Café 107 N. Main St., Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
More dates TBA
*Additional dates are being arranged now. To book Clare for a poetry reading or book-signing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (337) 962-5886
Published on Oct 1, 2013
On September 14th, 2013, during the Third Annual Elemore Morgan, Jr. Fall Fest Art Walk, LE MOT / THE WORD was presented at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana. LE MOT / THE WORD was a multi-lingual poetry event featuring performances by Darrell Bourque, Brenda Cary, David Cheramie, J. Bruce Fuller, Michael J. LeBlanc, Clare L. Martin, Patrice Melnick, and Gerd Wuestemann and MC’d by Jonathan Penton. It celebrated the Acadiana Center for the Arts, The Festival of Words, Embrasser Journal, and the Steampunk and Makers’ Faire, and had the organizational assistance of Elizabeth Burk, Gwendolyn Richard, Rosalyn Spencer, and Emily Thibodeaux.
Credit to Unlikely Stories for the recording.
My reading as part of the MadHat reading at Wordfest 2013 on Saturday, May 4th, 2013–Asheville, NC
An interview conducted by Jeff Davis for WordPlay on Asheville FM. The interview begins at about the 7 minute mark.
I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to share my words. Thanks to the festival organizers and backers, MadHat, Inc., and to WordPlay host Jeff Davis for everything. Special thanks to Unlikely Stories publisher, Jonathan Penton, for thinking of me and for an amazing experience.
Thursday, April 25th, we celebrate “Eating the Heart First Day” on Amazon! Go to Amazon.com, and put “Eating the Heart First” in the search bar or click here. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend, or two for both of you. We want to make a great showing; but more importantly, we want to share this book that we sincerely believe in. Thank you!!
These keen, visceral and haunting poems were written for human beings. Their creator, Clare L. Martin, has expressed deeply-felt and deeply-known human experiences through them. We want you to read Eating the Heart First because it was written for you. The sample poem, “Naked,” at the bottom of this post is the opening poem of the collection.
Just the title of this collection, Eating the Heart First, gives the reader a hint of what can be found within its pages: darkly powerful poems about love, dreams, and the swamps of Martin’s native Louisiana. These poems will undoubtedly leave a lasting mark on the reader.
Eating the Heart First was published October 2012 by Press 53. Poems from this collection have appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Literary Mama, Louisiana Literature, and more. Martin’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web, Best New Poets, and Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net.
“Clare L. Martin is a fine young poet whose work is dark and lovely and full of a deep organic pulse,” says Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America. “Like the landscape of her beloved Louisiana, her work is alive with mystery. You could swim in this hot water, but there are things down inside its darkness that might pull you away forever. It is an exquisite drowning.”
More praise comes from Darrell Bourque, former Poet Laureate of Louisiana and author of In Ordinary Light, New and Selected Poems and Megan’s Guitar And Other Poems from Acadie, who says, “Clare L. Martin pulls off an impressive balancing act in her debut book of poems, Eating the Heart First. In this collection, divided into three sections, she manages trust of her intuitive powers while she tats her findings onto poems built with technical expertise. She is a believer of dreams, and the whole of the work can be read as an oneiric treatise guided by the powers she believes in: the power of memory, the power of water, the power of moons, the powers of longing, and the power of love.”
Clare is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, a graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a member of the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective and a Teaching Artist through the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Martin founded and directs the Voices Seasonal Reading Series in Lafayette, LA, which features new and established Louisiana and regional writers.
Eating the Heart First
Poetry by Clare L. Martin
Publication date: October 1, 2012
Size: 8.5 x 5.5 inches, 90 pages
Price: US $12.95
I am the woman
naked before the mirror.
I am the haunted woman
wincing at self-recognition.
I know this muscle that beats
hard in my chest
and grows stranger
as I know it.
I slave in the garden,
lopping mad roses,
shredding their iron tongues—
At midnight I soak
my bridal veil with gasoline
and set it afire. I dance around,
around and curse you ceremoniously.
I do not reach for you in sleep.
I keep my dream secret.
What remains is sexless, loveless.
I cannot give you what I do not have.
In a morning tryst,
my lover tells me fables of skin
and I crave you—
Clare L. Martin, Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012)
[Photo courtesy of Tracy Board]
So many people have done extraordinary things for me all of my life that the only way I could ever pay them back is by giving back to others, in ways within my power and ability. It is my joyful duty. That is why we started the Voices Seasonal Reading Series.
The first ever featured writer for Voices was Patrice Melnick, a dynamic, loving and gifted woman who shares her many talents with the communities within Acadiana and beyond. As a personal friend and colleague she has taught me well how to grow joy within myself and share it with others. She has taught me to be brave in so many ways.
Patrice was my inspiration for planning the first Voices in Winter event at Carpe Diem Gelato – Espresso Bar in Lafayette, LA at the beginning of 2012. It was a great success and we have had six very successful events since. We are already booked through 2013 and I am putting out feelers for 2014.
I met Matthew Hofferek at a Starbucks drive through window. His personable manner, humor and keen wit engaged me and we hit it off immediately. On our second meeting at the drive through, he told me he was a writer. I was so happy he was upfront about it. I said I was too, and we exchanged information. When he shared a few short stories that he had written, I was immediately struck by the power of his voice, his unflinching honesty and the gracefulness of his language. We have become great friends, lifetime friends, I hope, with all my heart.
I offered to him to read at Voices and he did so last night. It was his first reading and he was nervous. My friend Jonathan and I took him to Pamplona and we each had a good, strong drink of our choosing and toasted THE WORD. By happenstance, we met two other writers who are moonlighting as bartenders. It was great synchronicity, a force that flowed through the entire evening.
Joining Matthew at the Voices in Winter event was internationally-acclaimed poet and collage artist, Camille Martin. We were very lucky and honored to have Camille read for the series and she was enlightening, brilliant and moved the audience with her stunning work. Camille is from Lafayette and has lived in Louisiana for many years but finds her home in Toronto now. She was in town visiting family. We were lucky to be found by her and hope for deepening connections with her in the future.
I was so proud of Matthew. My dear friend affected us, his audience, with a deeply moving story, “All Wars End Alone” that was written with great “honesty and a little invention.” This young man served our country and is home. His somber and difficult tale was so well-written, so well-crafted and affecting that it brought tears to my eyes to hear him read it, even though I had read it before last night.
Whatever burdens we carry, there are miracles that can lift them from our hearts. I was so honored to have Camille and Matthew read and both of them dedicated their readings to loved ones. The emotion was palpable and my prayer is that by sharing their words they were lifted up, as we all were.
Thank you, Matthew and Camille for trusting us.
Thank you to Carpe Diem, Silvia, Erik and their staff, and to all our guests. To Matthew and Camille, I sincerely say thank you for your bravery, dedication to your respective arts and for the honor to present you to the community of Acadiana.
Fellow Press 53 poet, Wendy Willis, tagged me for The Next Big Thing series. Thank you, Wendy! Wendy’s splendid collection, Blood Sisters of the Republic, was published in 2012 by Press 53.
What is the working title of the book?
My debut poetry collection, which was published October 2012 by Press 53, is titled EATING THE HEART FIRST.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
We are meaning seekers. For me, all language of a poem should work to embody meaning. I wrote the poem, “Eating the Heart First” several years ago and when I wrote it, my personal response to the metaphor was that it is the way I approach poetry, when reading or writing it—my aim is to go to the heart first. Many, many years ago I envisioned that if I ever did publish a book of poetry (which has been an enduring hope) that I would use that title.
What genre does your book fall under?
EATING THE HEART FIRST is a book of poetry.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a very challenging question as there are not characters per se in the book, but there are variations of voice that would definitely need a strong female lead to perform the poems. I would say that Marion Cotillard comes to mind as an actress who could embody the grief and longing, eroticism and dark beauty conveyed in the work.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Mysterious, often dark, and always vivid poetic worlds arise in the lyrical language of Clare L. Martin, who stands firm as a powerful, emerging feminine poetic voice crying out for grace and beauty and love in the midst of death and more death and eerie dreaming against a backdrop of stunningly-imagined scenes of her beloved Louisiana and myriad realities we share beyond the haunted wetlands.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The poems in EATING THE HEART FIRST were written over an eight year period, but I did not begin shaping a manuscript until 2007, when my father died. Working on it, I did not keep track of how many drafts were produced. I just kept adding and subtracting poems and shaping, shaping, shaping. The manuscript went through many incarnations and even a different title. I know the actual manuscript was a work-in-progress for at least five years.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wrote poetry sporadically since high school and through college, but did not have a dedicated practice until I made a conscious decision to live The Writing Life in 2004 when my son, Adam, died. I made the commitment to do something excellent, and as my best skill is writing poetry I dedicated myself to it. The book is the evidence of eight years of poem-making and striving for excellence in my art.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I would say that it is a very womanly book, sensual and powerful, yet very, very vulnerable. My work has been for some time, “in pursuit of the image” and I am very proud of the sometimes exquisite imagery I have achieved in this book. I believe the i(mage) is the (mag)ic of a poem which transports the reader into the “heart” of the poem.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Clare L. Martin’s debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, was published fall 2012 by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Selection. Martin’s poetry has appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Melusine, Poets and Artists and Louisiana Literature, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web, for Best New Poets and Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net. Her poems have been included in the anthologies The Red Room: Writings from Press 1, Best of Farmhouse Magazine Vol. 1, Beyond Katrina, and the 2011 Press 53 Spotlight. She is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, a graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a member of the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective and a Teaching Artist through the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Martin founded and directs the Voices Seasonal Reading Series in Lafayette, LA, which features new and established Louisiana and regional writers.
I tag the women below for The Next Big Thing series, because their books are or will be!
Watch for their interviews at their sites on Wednesday, February 6th
I have been working on Eating the Heart First for eight years plus a lifetime. Now that it is out, the work has shifted from primarily writing and revising, to promoting, public reading, networking, etc and my creativity has suffered. But mine eyes have seen the glory and it is Broken Jesus. Broken Jesus is the vision I have for something new and intriguing– a personal and creative breakthrough, an exploration of myth and mystery, life and death, self and other.
Broken Jesus is the working title of my second poetry manuscript. I have roughly thirty poems already written and filed together. (This will definitely shift and change as I write new poems and exclude others.) My focus is becoming clearer about what the title means to me, and I am attuned to the vision as visionaries are.
I sense there will be a current of spirituality and imagery that references Catholicism, having been brought up Catholic, but not exclusively and not as endorsement, as I have left the church. I sense there is much that will arise as I delve into this work. I am in the very early stages of this effort and I am excited. This morning I wrote fervently for a couple of hours and the work produced was of a better quality and more lucid than anything I have written in the past two months. I updated the page, The Work, on this site with links to a few poems that may appear in Broken Jesus.
Of course my effort to spread the word about Eating the Heart First is high on my Action List for 2013, but ‘to write is primary’ and this writing beckons me.
In early December of 2000, Miriam died unexpectedly and tragically. Miriam had epilepsy and asphyxiated in her sleep due to a seizure. Miriam’s death affected me greatly, but more importantly, her life affected me greatly. She was a true love, a great and magnanimous friend, and a light in the life of everyone who knew her. I am very grateful for all of the lessons she taught me—the most important was: “To have a friend you must be a friend.”
Rest in peace, my dearest.
Saturday night at the Midwinter Poetry Night event in New Iberia, Mrs. Gara, Miriam’s mother, gave me a copy of the Spring 1989 issue of The Southwestern Review, which is the literary journal of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the university from which I received my B.A in English. This issue contains the very first poems of mine that were ever published, “The Nightmare” and “Raven.” Mrs. Gara also gave me a framed poem of her own making which was written after we shared a conversation about poetry. Mrs. Gara felt compelled and inspired to read her own poem at the Open Mic at the event. She was received enthusiastically and it made me very happy.
A circle completes.
For many years, the yearning was there for me to write but I was not disciplined or attuned to the voice as deeply as I am now. There is a story there. There is a story there. Much of my creative writing was in the form of letters that I would send to friends. Miriam was the person I wrote to most frequently. I do not have these letters. I wish I did. Miriam teased me that she had filed these letters away and would bring them out to blackmail me or show my children. It was a joke, really, but knowing Miriam she would have done so for a laugh. Miriam always pushed me to write creatively and to develop as a writer. She was a beacon for me in life, and continues to light my path since her passing.
Miriam was a bridesmaid at my wedding in 1989. The next day she moved to New Orleans. She loved the city. She lived there until her death. Miriam was a friend who knew my husband and me very well. She knew my husband before I did and they carried on like great friends throughout our time together. Dean and I spent so many wonderful weekends at her apartment in the French Quarter. She made the city her own and loved to welcome friends to her apartment so that they could enjoy the city as well.
Good times. Good times.
I am very grateful that Miriam got to know my daughter. Miriam loved children but didn’t want her own. She loved her nieces and nephews and her friends’ children. She treated my girl like a niece and friend of her own. My girl loved her, although she does not have very many memories now, because she was so young when Miriam died.
Miriam loved the arts and had a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration. At the time of her death, she was working for the New Orleans Arts Council and living as she dreamed. She was one of the most caring, open, determined, self-reliant, fun and funny friends I ever had. She always encouraged my writing and I am indebted to her for believing in me and my talent. I know she is with me. I know she is with me. Thank you, Miriam, for everything.
its last crimson
flash, over broken
angles of this room.
through wounded curtains,
spells my name
in a language
I cannot speak.
How can I push back
this rush of dream,
growing like grasses
Or let linger
the moving shadow
and brown skull
that fills this
A cry crackles
from the raven’s
hook of mouth.
Its raspy babble falls
from hollow boughs
dry as forgotten bone.
Hooked nail, feather and flesh.
in rusty leaves, crisp
strips of buckling leather,
and thicken the sky
with black, blue rhythms
of glossed wing.
First published in The Southwestern Review, Spring 1989
There was a time when I could not write. There was a time when I was very sick and did not have a grip on life. So now that I am stronger and healthier, I feel I absolutely must do it. I must do it for my survival. I must write to discover meaning, to know myself more deeply and to contribute something beautiful to the world. It is a responsibility and I honor it with my best. I live this commitment because the ability and time to do it is not promised.
My life is somewhat illuminated now, but darkness is ever-present. I have to keep striking at the dark with my best energies and efforts. I hold firm to the belief that “Each success, no matter how small, in practice of what I love is a lightning strike against the dark.”
I hope you take that statement into your heart and live it for yourself.
Debut full-length poetry collection, Eating the Heart First, published October 1, 2012 by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Selection.
Founded the Voices Seasonal Readings Series
Presented “Vision and Voice: Introducing Youth to Poem-Making” to middle and elementary gifted and talented students—April, 2012, Zachary, LA
Coordinated Words of Fire, Words of Water, the literary component of the Fire and Water Rural Arts Celebration in Arnaudville, LA
Presenter and participant, Acadiana Worldlab, Cite des Arts, Lafayette
“Any Winter Sunday in Louisiana” nominated by Referential Magazine for a Pushcart Prize
“What Winter Told Me” nominated by Thrush Poetry Journal for inclusion in the Poetry Daily online anthology
“The Bird in My Ribcage” and “As We Are” were selections for “Vision/Verse #4” ekphrastic arts project by the Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana. (June 2012)
9 submission packets sent out. 26 poems rejected.
14 Poems published:
“Of the Gone Woman” Unlikely Stories
“Because We Love” Unlikely Stories
“Dream of Sudden Water” Unlikely Stories
“The Disease is at Home in Her” Melusine, Spring/Summer
“The Embalmer’s Wife” Melusine, Spring/Summer
“Seeing Through” blue five notebook, Spring
“Ink on a Mirror” Louisiana Literature, 29.1
“Convergence” Louisiana Literature, 29.1
“Distortion” Unlikely Stories, Spring
“The Word Does Not Come” Unlikely Stories Spring
“Poem to the Madonna” Unlikely Stories, Spring
“The Oak Remembered from My Childhood” Referential Magazine, Winter
“Any Winter Sunday in Louisiana” Referential Magazine, Winter
“What Winter Told Me” Thrush Poetry Journal, January 2012
“Words of Fire Words of Water” Fire and Water Rural Arts Celebration, Arnaudville (December)
First Friday Reading Series, Lake Charles (November)
17 Poets! Reading Series, New Orleans (November)
Sundays@4, Baton Rouge Gallery – center for contemporary arts (November)
Voices Seasonal Reading Series, Lafayette (November)
DAF Grants Recipient Ceremony, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette (October)
100 Thousand Poets for Change, Cite des Arts (September)
Vision/Verse #4, project by the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA, Lake Charles (June)
Festival of Words reading series at Casa Azul Gifts, Grand Coteau (April)
“Voices in Winter” with Patrice Melnick, Carpe Diem! Lafayette (February)
Interview/feature article, “Eat Your Heart Out” The Independent Monthly (November)
Interview/live reading on KRVS (88.7 FM–www.krvs.org) Après
Midi with host Judith Meriwether. (November)