Posts Tagged ‘Clare L. Martin’

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.



Acadiana Wordlab keeps me in touch with my creative side. This weekend Clare Martin led us in a mysterious exercise. Well, she touted it as a mysterious exercise. In truth, she led us in open-ended prompts.

For our first round of writing, she had us each choose a page of the newspaper. I grabbed an article about Hydrilla, a plant that is invading local marshes. I was fascinated by the article and learned about this intrusive species as well as about the mythical creature for which it is named. My poem is more of a found poem, reworking words from the article. I can see this activity working in the classroom, finding poetry in the news.



Hydra, that nine-headed creature,
kept growing heads—two
for every one cut off.

This monster invaded the lake years ago
choking waterways, native plants,
and your boat’s propeller.

Beware! it grows over
and under the swamp, a nuisance,
a bother, a downright sore oppressor.

There is a plan from the parish president
to lower the level of water
dry out the hellacious suckers.

“Time to nurture kindness
to our natural ecosystem, to restore
the old cycle of flood to dry-bed.”

Don’t let your heart bleed
for this monstrous water weed.
Just allow the soft earth to learn

from her mistakes,
To chop off its head and wait
with a hatchet in hand to catch
the two growing back.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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The prairie inspires artists and writers.

The prairie inspires artists and writers.

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

This weekend I was invited to read at a festival in Arnaudville, a small town about 40 miles north of New Iberia. The drive to Arnaudville along Highway 31 follows the curving Bayou Teche. Years ago, I drove this same highway to a fiction writing workshop. It was in this workshop that I wrote the first chapter of Blessen. The workshop took place in NuNu’s, an arts collective with a performance area and a cafe in the back. The building sat on a high ridge near the bayou. A few years ago, the place burned. Now Nunu’s is housed down the highway in a large old lumber company building. Walking into the place, you step back in time on long leaf pine floors and high ceilings. You look out onto endless rice fields. I felt a sentimental connection to this birthplace of my first novel. And it was here that I connected with new friends who write.

Clare Martin organized the event in conjunction with the Fire and Water Festival “Le Feu et l’Eae.” (All festivals in South Louisiana have French names.) She titled the readings, “Words of Fire, Words of Water.” I felt privileged to be among the readers. Clare read from her recent book of poetry, Eating the Heart First. I felt an immediate connection to this woman who has turned her grief into beautiful poetry. Talking to her after the reading, I shared something about not expecting to sell many books that day. (I sold 6! A good day!) Her response was so encouraging.

Each success no matter how small in practice of what I love is a lightning strike against the dark.

I loved this! Another woman-writer-friend, Chere’ Coen, (See her blog post about the event.) gave me a Gris Gris bag for courage. And guess what symbol it had on it? A lightning bolt! More synchronicity.

The gris gris bag for courage with Clare's book of poetry, my prizes from Words of Fire, Words of Water.

The gris gris bag for courage with Clare’s book of poetry, my prizes from Words of Fire, Words of Water.

Traveling home from the lovely day in Arnaudville, (not to mention, after a delicious catfish po-boy, hazelnut latte, and double-chocolate cake ball) I felt full. I was full of the spirit that brings us life and creativity and art.

2012-12-01 13.48.09

This poem by Clare L. Martin moved me to tears:


The hospital room is cool.
There are moths in your breath.

Circled in ice, you’re enwrapped in white fire.
Coffee-colored urine drains in a bag.

I swab your lips with lemon glycerin.
Your pulse beeps loss. I buzz a nurse out of the void.

I cannot watch you die.
The doctor scowls at my cowardliness.

Stunted from birth, plucked too early—
You were wingless.

It took me years to believe it wasn’t my fault
you despaired in an infant’s life.

I choose blue for the burial
like the thunderhead in your eyes.

The undertaker powders the fine
hairs of your face, seals you in secret.

First published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature
Reprinted by permission from the author

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