FALL EVENTS

Clare reading.

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 martin.clarel@gmail.com or call (337) 962-5886

Le Mot/The Word

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.

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)

Acadiana Wordlab (3-2-13)

What I really get out of participating in Acadiana Wordlab is that we are writing raw and uncensored in a group—and that is uncomfortable. I am forced to write outside of my comfort zone and it is scary. We had such an amazing group yesterday. There were nine of us and I led the session. It was kind of a topsy-turvy set up, which I will not elaborate upon, but I was able to focus and we all got to writing. We had great synergy and energy.  It was a rewarding experience and the writing produced that was shared by the group was strong and interesting.  I thank Jonathan Penton for organizing this project. It’s really catching on and people are writing new because of it. That is success.

This poem-in-progress was written from a free-write produced at Acadiana Wordlab yesterday (3-2-13) I do not have a title for it.

Birds fly and drop around us
into trees dressed in smoke.

The air we breathe
is a blade in our lungs.

We run into the lake
to escape a burning death.

What have we lost on a blue
morning illuminated by fire?

We live for a time in the belly
of the sleeping lake.

We raise our children
to speak fish, to know

the name of the mountain
under our feet

worn to an indecipherable
multitude of pebbles.

Summer Day, 1984

fishframe

I am pregnant; fifteen years old. I am fishing with my father. The bayou is a darkened mirror. Father stands in the slow-dancing boat and draws back effortlessly to cast the line. Water silvers; streams like snakes. There are snakes, too, black ones that appear plastic and fluid: shadows of water.  There is a faint stream of motor oil—a finger-trace in the water which rings a floating Budweiser can. Cattle egrets in breeding plumage float above the bank. Father pulls in a sun perch. Its iridescent tail fans the light. We cast again, again in silence.

After my son was born my daddy told me he made a wish for me as he rolled his wrist to reach the spot where the mysteries of fish exist:

To not regret, to hold to the promises I make.

Wings

Image

I want my ashes spread at Cypremort Point, Louisiana. To me it is a place that I have loved visiting all of my life. I continue to make memories there with my family.

As a child, my imagination was continually sparked by my mother’s nature-games, spotting hawks, Kingfishers, cranes, and other birds who inhabit the area and also her fun stories about Bear Country, a sloping area near the Weeks Island turnoff.  When we drove through Bear Country to get to the point, my mother’s voice would always drop a bit in tone and volume and she would tell us to be on the lookout for bears. As an adult, I finally saw a Louisiana Black Bear there and my mother’s evocative tales all became so wonderfully real again.

We had the use of a camp on the point for many years when I was very little until I was maybe ten years old. We would stay weekends out there with family. We would fish, crab, play in the water at the beach and then pack up at the end of that seemingly endless time and go home. I always liked Cypremort Point better than home. I do not remember much of the home on Sixth Street I began life in, but I vividly remember Cypremort Point.

Once I was allowed to steer the boat out in Vermilion Bay. I turned the wheel hard left and we circled dangerously. Once my father “caught” an alligator on his fishing line at Marsh Island and I shrieked in fear that the alligator was going to “get me” as he reeled it closer to the boat. There was an illusive, enormous sheep’s head fish that all of us tried to catch. It lurked under the wharf and we would see it swim slowly in and out of sunlight. There was a day when the sun was full and high that I saw a thunderous strongman lift a sea turtle over his head on a shrimp boat. I was stunned by the exotic creature and the strange man who seemed to appear from a Sinbad the Sailor movie.

This brings to mind the dead winged monkey that I saw in a pile of shucked crab shells.  It was stinking and scary. I saw the wings. My brother didn’t. Its dank and wet hide was encircled by flies.  I looked closely for evidence of breath but there was none. It was my first up close experience with death.

I held onto that memory for years, the wonder of it and the improbability. I protected my illusions. I saw a winged monkey like in the Sinbad movies, like in The Wizard of Oz. These creatures were real even though the one I saw was dead, rotting, and half-buried under red-boiled blue point crab shells.

It was more real than anything.

I have told this story to only the closest of friends, or after a long drunk.  It didn’t do much to jeopardize my reputation because my reputation has always been at risk. Saturday at Acadiana Wordlab, I wrote about the dead winged monkey and we all laughed. The truth perhaps spilled out that I had imagined it, that likely the monkey was a pet on a shrimp boat, not Sinbad’s ship, and the pet monkey had died and was discarded.

But I really want to believe, to hold fast to the magic of its existence; the idea that we do not know all that we think we do. I want to believe in the strange and unfamiliar, the existence of secret things of this world. How would you know that this creature does not exist? Our knowledge is fallible, limited. You may say I am a silly woman, and I am. I am in my heart still that silly, shocked and awed girl; a child of wonder. And I reside in that one, and perhaps many other, glorious illusions.

VOICES IN WINTER—A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT

MATT

Matthew Hardin Hofferek reading at the Voices Seasonal Reading Series, Feb. 16th, 2013

[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.

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