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About this poet

Dawn Lundy Martin earned a B.A. from the University of Connecticut, an M.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Martin's first full-length collection, A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press, 2007), was selected by Carl Phillips for the 2007 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her second collection, Discipline, won the 2009 Nightboat Books Poetry Prize, chosen by Fanny Howe (Nightboat Books, 2011). She is also the author of two chapbooks, The Undress (Belladonna Books, 2006) and The Morning Hour (Poetry Society of America, 2003), which was selected by C. D. Wright for the Poetry Society of America's National Chapbook Fellowship.

In 2004, she co-edited, alongside Vivien Labaton, The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism (Anchor Books, 2004), a collection of essays on modern theories of activism in America. She also wrote the Afterword, titled "What, Then, is Freedom," to Harriet Ann Jacobs' 19th century slave narrative, Incidents of a Slave Girl (Signet Classics, 2010).

Martin is co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation in New York, a national grant making organization led by young women and transgender youth, which focuses on social justice activism. She is also a member of the Black Took Collective, a group of experimental black poets embracing critical theory about gender, race, and sexuality.

She has been the recipient of two poetry grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was awarded the 2008 Academy of American Arts and Sciences May Sarton Prize for Poetry.

She has taught at Montclair State University, The New School, and the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College. She is currently an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

"Also Birds" [excerpt]

Dawn Lundy Martin

Here, a description of stalemate looking past shore. Here is the fragment, the stunted word store.

Life brings us to the dedication of the droning fisherman, all his preparations for autumn—thermal thigh-high rubbers...

Land trauma, spill snot from earth. A hole so deep on fire and imagined ends/endless. Glory arm reaches in.

Speed is distracting.

I've a faith prescription.

If you multiply geography by time you have right here.

Wake into a dream, or first glimpses of the afterlife, God just beyond the threshold, saying you can have anything you want.

To be held fiercely, a wave: be still.

Sudden awareness of the possibility of absolute loss. From mire, everything's riding on this.

Sunlight, our undertaking.

What it means to, in the absence of wholeness—side of the self, caught by glimpse. How could we have not seen this before?

My bright scarf, a masquerade. Hinter swan.

Copyright © 2011 by Dawn Lundy Martin. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Dawn Lundy Martin. Used with permission of the author.

Dawn Lundy Martin

Dawn Lundy Martin

Co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation in New York, Dawn Lundy Martin was selected by Carl Phillips for the 2007 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for her debut collection A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering

by this poet

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This is how much fortuitiveness weighs. Measure in dirt. Of vices and other habits. Of leaving a house at 3 am and drawn as would any tether and here is your lock, my dear. I want to say this plainly: it is only when I am in a woman’s arms that my body is not a threat. Neither crosses nor damnation. Fix nor flutter

poem

Near adust. Caves. Closings. Relentlessly the body leaves the bed. Does things. A day is merry and eager for prosperity. It dings dings the bell in its own head. The ritual of masking the breasts in heavy fabric, of covering the legs and feet. A face from the mirror says, I am pretty, I am pretty. Skin of opening,

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If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling, hands folded to a private sign. We recognize it. If there is a mother kneeling, hands a tent, she is praying or she is crying or crying and praying at the same time. Although it is recognized, the signals of it, it is private and no one knows, perhaps not even she,