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

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Clare talks about poetry & stuff and reads poems too…

Linda Boudreaux of The Extra Mile interviews me for her program which airs on AOC Community Media in the Acadiana Area. I talk about poetry, Eating the Heart First, my children and happenings in the literary arts community of Lafayette and surrounding areas.

Thanks, Linda! It was a pleasure.

Wonderful news!

I am exhilarated this morning by the wonderful news of this review written by Blood Lotus: An Online Literary Journal editor, Stacia Fleegal, of my debut poetry collection, Eating the Heart First.  I am so grateful for these words. I read the review over the phone to my mother and she just said, “Wow. That is mind-blowing.”

Even if I don’t sell a million copies, I have experienced, and continue to experience, great joy and pleasure from the response of so many readers. Stacia takes great care in her reading and her words are considered, inspired, and gracious.

Please read her review, and if you are so moved, buy a copy of the book, available from Press 53 for your summer reading.

Thank you!   

~Clare

4/25/13 “Eating the Heart First Day” on Amazon!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThursday, 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
ISBN: 978-1-935708-66-7
Size: 8.5 x 5.5 inches, 90 pages
Price: US $12.95

NAKED

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
is calloused,
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)

THE NEXT BIG THING

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.

Wendy blogs at http://wendywillisdotme.wordpress.com/ and you can read her self-interview for The Next Big Thing here. 

HERE WE GO!

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?

EATING THE HEART FIRST was published October 2012 by Press 53.

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

Katie Manning

Margaret Gibson Simon

Hedy Habra

Broken Jesus



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.

2012: A Year in the Writing Life

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.

The Writing Life 2012:

Debut full-length poetry collection, Eating the Heart First, published October 1, 2012 by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Selection.

Activities

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

Recognitions

“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)

Publications

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

Readings

“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)

Media

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)