Blog Tour: Process Talk

 

 

 

What are you working on?

I am working on a second manuscript of poetry with hopes for a second book. When Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012) was done and out in the world, I was consumed with promotion of it and became less structured/focused in my writing time. Happily though, Acadiana Wordlab had just formed that same month and regular attendance counted for me getting writing done.  The weekly sessions got me refocused and recharged. I am indebted to Jonathan Penton (Google him) for his vision and work that made this great community/activity thrive. I am the coordinator now, as Jonathan has moved onto other projects. My involvment gives me great pleasure. I give and receive. I am amazed by the wonderful writers who are growing in the Acadiana community and around our state. I have many new poems that have come out of the AW drafting sessions that will hopefully make it into the manuscript.

I have a working title for the manuscript: Broken Jesus.  That title comes from a line in my poem, “Convergence,” which appeared in Louisiana Literature, but the image itself comes from a black and white photograph of a broken marble statue of Jesus on the cross at an abandoned church. Ralph J Schexnaydre, Jr. took that photo back in the 1980s.  The image appeared on the cover of the first literary magazine in which my work was published, my university’s journal, The Southwestern Review.

I still have that journal issue (it came out in 1989, 25 years ago) but sadly Ralph doesn’t have the image anymore. I would have asked him to allow me to use it. I do have in my house a crucifix that was my grandmother’s and grandfather’s that is broken. A limb is missing from Jesus, and perhaps I can have someone photograph it for me down the road as the manuscript shapes up.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

The work I am drawn to, the poetry that enlivens me is work that is finely crafted, visceral, meaningful, daring, brave, honest, sharp, and lyrical and I hope that my work is these things. I want to be a dauntless writer. I want to be writing new always: pushing myself, going deeper, going harder and reaching more deeply into you, the reader. I don’t know how else to answer this question because if I am not gripped by a poet’s language, attention to craft, willingness to rend hearts and punch guts, with an almost nameless kind of love for you at the same time, I usually put the book down.

Why do you write what you do?

I write to move other human beings with my words.

How does your writing process work?

I used to be strictly tied to typing rather than writing in longhand but since I have been a devotee of Acadiana Wordlab’s mostly pen-to-paper process, I am more attuned to my hands, albeit in a different way than typing letter by letter. This is something new and fun for me, to write out drafts in notebooks. It’s something I had truly not practiced except for note-taking since getting a typewriter, then a word processor, then a computer. The words are moving from my brain to my hands but my hands know more than my mouth does.

In my at-home practice, I usually start with a free-write. I don’t wait for inspiration but because I am a constant reader, I am inspired daily.  Also, those ephemeral voices (that may become lines of poetry) are a grace to which I am sharply attuned.  (It can cause problems to live so far up into your head but I manage to be grounded). A word or phrase may come to me while eating buttered grits or taking a bath, and I get up, write it down, and follow where it leads. I have rushed out of the bath naked (they’ve all seen me naked around here) and gotten on the computer to get words down.  My short term memory is weakening I think.  I also might need to get my bathrobe out of the closet.

Sometimes if I am driving and a line comes, I will pull over and voice-record it on my phone.   But the question of writing process beyond the mechanics of actually writing is that I firmly hold that I cannot call myself a writer if I am not writing. I don’t feel I deserve that name if I am not doing it in some way, and I count many ways: letter-writing, journaling, creative writing, and emails—they qualify too, if they are creatively inspired.

For many years my only writing was letter writing and it was necessary for me to have that one person as an audience.  The three friends I wrote to on a regular basis are now deceased but really I owe them deep thanks for enjoying my letters and writing back. Those correspondences saved me and my writing career, whatever that is or will be, because it kept me writing. Those friends kept me writing and encouraged my writing when my days were black pages.

 

 

*Thank you to Margaret Gibson Simon for tagging me in this fun and challenging effort to enlighten others about our ways and whys of writing. She can be read at Reflections on the Teche

 

I am tagging:

Mashael (I am air)

Helen Losse

Mona AlvaradoFrazier

Participate if you like and link back here!  I will link to you, if you are inclined to play along.

Be well, friends.

Clare

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Eating the Heart First

My debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart Firstpublished by Press 53  is available. Click on the image to purchase directly from Press 53′s web site. Available via Barnes & Noble andAmazonFor more information, or to purchase a signed copy, contact me via the email address below:

martin.clarel@gmail.com

THANK YOU

Praise for Eating the Heart First

“Clare L. Martin is a fine young poet whose work is dark and lovely and full of a deep organic pulse. 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.”

— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America

***

An excerpt from a review by Stacia Fleegal for Blood Lotus: A Journal of Online Literature:

“Martin is a fearless poet who opens her collection with a poem called “Naked.” She tells us she “winc[es] at self-recognition”—but wincing isn’t running, isn’t hiding from the mirror. In “I Have Learned to Hold My Tongue” a few pages later, silence isn’t forever, but “Not yet, not yet.” Words must gestate, be nourished in wombs until viable.

Knowing when to let words out becomes knowing how hard to love, and the knowledge, anthropologists might conclude, comes from women. Perhaps it’s one woman who is many women: “The woman naked before the mirror,” “the woman you married,” “Bone Woman,” “Girl Running with Horses,” “Garbage Woman,” “wood-boned mother,” “the earth, your other mother”…there are more. Martin tells us what women know, and looks to women in dreams, in art, and in memory for answers. Many of her poems even read like spells—the knowledge is “conjured,” “illuminates” and “enlightens.” Love letters are burned and smoke is “sacrificial.” Ashes are offered “to the thunder and wind.” Ceremoniously, Martin honors lives—her father’s, her infant son’s—she couldn’t herself sustain anywhere else but in the altar-tombs of her poems.

“What are these words / but weapons of grief?” she asks rhetorically in “Abandoned.”

And such weapons as we find in her book are exquisitely rendered.

***

“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. In one of the late poems a crow in a dream asks, ‘Let me be a whorl of darkness— / Let me be a fist in the sun.’ All of the poems in this collection have the impact of that crow’s call and of the trope it creates. Gradually the poems reveal richly textured revelations of a heart tied to human experience in that ‘dream we cannot know completely.’ And, while we may not ever know the dream completely, Ms. Martin hands us a guidebook to dreams and to the art that uses dream and dreaming as the scaffolding from which to make something beautiful, and useful, and mysterious all at the same time.”

— Darrell Bourque, former Poet Laureate of Louisiana and author of In Ordinary Light, New and Selected Poems

***

“In her first collection, Martin deals with many common themes – motherhood, death, nature – but does so with an unsettling grace. There is an honesty and an understated tone that give each piece the right mix of tension and release. Many of the poems are exceptionally well wrought, describing loss and hope, anger and want. The most powerful piece in the collection has to be “Bread Making.” The seething anger, mixed with a dash of christian mythos, combined with flour, and sweat, all bake together into the perfect loaf.

Although described as a Louisiana poet, Martin will appeal to readers way beyond the dankness of the bayou.”

R L Raymond  rlraymond.blogspot.com
Blog about the writing and poetry of R L Raymond

First

The barrage of the diesel engine rattles the truck cab. He is fumbling with the buttons of his jeans. Levis 501s. The only kind of jeans he wears since he got the job at the Parking Lot. He buys them when they are on sale, but that is hardly ever. Classic—that’s his style. His mom bought him Tough Skins™ from Sears. He hated them. He roughed up those jeans riding bikes in the woods with the narrowest path that the boys cleared with a rusty machete, and fishing at the No Trespassing Lake that the boys had to clear a barbed-wire fence to get to. He wore those jeans so tough his mom had to put patches on patches, but it was all she could afford. Kids called him “Poor Patchy” at school and laughed too at the every-day-of –week bologna sandwiches and the Mason jar of milk his mom packed. He thumbs the last button of the Levis through the buttonhole and slips the jeans down his hips. She is already crying. He wonders for a moment and asks if it is okay. She says yes, puts her panties on the rear view mirror, and tries to smile, her mouth quivering. What is it? He asks, again. Is it me? No, she says, just the human condition.

©2014 CLM

This piece was generated at the February 8th, 2014 Acadiana Wordlab led by George Marks. More info on Acadiana Wordlab can be found here: www.acadianawordlab.org 

Buy Eating the Heart First!

My debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, published by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo selection, is now available. Click on the image to purchase directly from Press 53′s web site. Available via Barnes & Noble andAmazon.

 

THANK YOU

Praise for Eating the Heart First

“Clare L. Martin is a fine young poet whose work is dark and lovely and full of a deep organic pulse. 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.”

— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America

***

An excerpt from a review by Stacia Fleegal for Blood Lotus: A Journal of Online Literature:

“Martin is a fearless poet who opens her collection with a poem called “Naked.” She tells us she “winc[es] at self-recognition”—but wincing isn’t running, isn’t hiding from the mirror. In “I Have Learned to Hold My Tongue” a few pages later, silence isn’t forever, but “Not yet, not yet.” Words must gestate, be nourished in wombs until viable.

Knowing when to let words out becomes knowing how hard to love, and the knowledge, anthropologists might conclude, comes from women. Perhaps it’s one woman who is many women: “The woman naked before the mirror,” “the woman you married,” “Bone Woman,” “Girl Running with Horses,” “Garbage Woman,” “wood-boned mother,” “the earth, your other mother”…there are more. Martin tells us what women know, and looks to women in dreams, in art, and in memory for answers. Many of her poems even read like spells—the knowledge is “conjured,” “illuminates” and “enlightens.” Love letters are burned and smoke is “sacrificial.” Ashes are offered “to the thunder and wind.” Ceremoniously, Martin honors lives—her father’s, her infant son’s—she couldn’t herself sustain anywhere else but in the altar-tombs of her poems.

“What are these words / but weapons of grief?” she asks rhetorically in “Abandoned.”

And such weapons as we find in her book are exquisitely rendered.

***

“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. In one of the late poems a crow in a dream asks, ‘Let me be a whorl of darkness— / Let me be a fist in the sun.’ All of the poems in this collection have the impact of that crow’s call and of the trope it creates. Gradually the poems reveal richly textured revelations of a heart tied to human experience in that ‘dream we cannot know completely.’ And, while we may not ever know the dream completely, Ms. Martin hands us a guidebook to dreams and to the art that uses dream and dreaming as the scaffolding from which to make something beautiful, and useful, and mysterious all at the same time.”

— Darrell Bourque, former Poet Laureate of Louisiana and author of In Ordinary Light, New and Selected Poems

***

“In her first collection, Martin deals with many common themes – motherhood, death, nature – but does so with an unsettling grace. There is an honesty and an understated tone that give each piece the right mix of tension and release. Many of the poems are exceptionally well wrought, describing loss and hope, anger and want. The most powerful piece in the collection has to be “Bread Making.” The seething anger, mixed with a dash of christian mythos, combined with flour, and sweat, all bake together into the perfect loaf.

Although described as a Louisiana poet, Martin will appeal to readers way beyond the dankness of the bayou.”

R L Raymond  rlraymond.blogspot.com
Blog about the writing and poetry of R L Raymond

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

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