5 Questions, 3 Facts

Press 53 is proud to start the week off with Cajun poet Clare L. Martin, whose collection, Eating the Heart First, is just as stunning as its title and cover suggest. Trust us, this is the kind of book you want in your hands sooner rather than later. Still not convinced? Check out our talk with Clare below, and you will be.image

P53:  Is there a certain kind of place that inspires you and your poetry? What about a place that you write in—what needs to be there in order for you to concentrate and feel good in your space?

CM: A long drive on a black road inspires me. The Louisiana scenic landscape inspires me. A secret road that leads to water inspires me. Waking up naturally is great—no alarms or shouts, and getting a good caffeine buzz to generate my creativity helps. 

I need a dinner plate-sized area of free space around my mouse on my desk to be able to navigate with it and clear access to the keyboard.  I share my writing space with my family (I work in the living room) and a terribly messy, pushy cat.

I would love a glitch-less virtual environment to write within and through which I can connect to publishers and other poets online.

I do keep paper and pen close at all times. I like to write dressed in PJs and barefooted, sometimes wearing a fancy hat.

P53: What place would you most like to travel to?

CM: We have family in northwest Montana, near Glacier Park. We love it there. I love Louisiana and enjoy parks and natural areas of my home state. I have never been on a secluded tropical island. I think I would like to travel to Fiji, just once, and vacation like Oprah, or hang out with Mick Jagger on Mustique Island, nestled in the Grenadine Islands of St. Vincent in the Caribbean.

P53: What kind of music do you listen to? Do you ever listen to music while writing?

CM: I listen to music when writing, yes. Not always, but much of the time, 
because I am in a room with a TV and people watching it and I need to 
separate myself from that.  I can handle the environment. I like the tension it creates and I also feel like my spirit needs to be with my family even when I am engaged in the solitary act of writing.

I listen to a hand-me-down iPod from my teen-aged daughter that I have 
loaded with The Rolling Stones, Adele, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Eminem, Beck, The Black Eyed Peas, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Florence and the Machine, The White Stripes, Portishead, David Bowie and The Clash.

P53: Who are the writers and poets who inspired you to write?

CM: Too many to name but at the top of the list are James Dickey, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Rainier Maria Rilke, Mary Oliver, and many, many contemporaries who are emerging as we speak.

P53: What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent working on a single line of poetry?

CM: I am really not sure of this question. I work with a ferocity that overtakes me and a concept of time is lost to me. I do, however, have many lines that I have pulled and cut out of poems that I call “Enigmatic Orphans.”  New work has often been birthed by these strange, lonely creatures.image

Three Facts About Clare:

1. I am the baby of the family.

2. I am a Scorpio Monkey.

3. I have always believed I was destined for greatness.

Flash Friday

As always, Press 53 sends you off into the weekend with a small but powerful dose of fiction; this week’s piece comes from Meg Pokrass, and is taken from her collection Damn Sure Right.


Because people are used to getting what they want from her, the dogs have become a team, she is their leader and even that is a lie. When nobody’s around, she trots after them. She used to have a job answering phones, but got to hating people by their voices, disconnecting them. She thinks about small things now; biscuits, leashes, bags. The nervous Lab in her walk group. There is always a story inside a story inside a dog. She wakes up believing that all she wants, really, is a man’s wet, brown eyes.

Poetry Wednesday

For your Wednesday, a short, incisive poem from Jenny Sadre-Orafai's beautiful collection Paper, Cotton, Leather.

Cut and Split

Kindling, that’s your mewl
in the living room. I’ve lost some
thing. You have to tell me what
has lived through more storms—
this maul or any branch you wore.

Let me begin again. He was convinced
he was a live oak, told everyone he can’t
stop leaves from breaking through
his ridiculous skin. It was the roots
that trailed his way to home.
It must be what woke me up.

My shoe game is as strong as my book game today.

Eeeee! It’s here! Our very first Award for Short Fiction winner is in my hands, and I promise, it’s even more gorgeous on the inside than it is on the outside! 

Hey Texas, I think you might’ve misunderstood the meaning of Banned Books Week….


Children read at all hours / Los niños y niñas leen a todas horas (ilustración de Sara Gillingham)

(via powells)