poem index

Oct. 16, 2009 Tischman Auditorium, New York CityFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

J. Michael Martinez was born and raised in Greeley, CO. He is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and received an M.F.A. from George Mason University.

His poems have appeared in New American Writing, Five Fingers Review, The Colorado Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among others, and the anthology Junta: Avant-Garde Latino/a Writing. He is the recipient of the 2006 Five Fingers Review Poetry Prize and is co-editor and co-founder of Breach Press.

In 2009, Martinez's collection Heredities was selected by Juan Felipe Herrera for the Academy of American Poets' Walt Whitman Award, and will be published by Louisiana State University Press.

About his work, Herrera wrote: "Heredities breaks away from four decades of inquiry into cultural identity. Martinez's exhilarating descent into the unspoken—lit by metaphysical investigations, physiological charts, and meta-translations of Hernán Cortés's accounts of his conquests—gives voice to a dismembered continental body buried long ago. This body, though flayed and fractured, rises and sings."

Martinez is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Xicano

J. Michael Martinez

as light
               shaped by trajectory.

a wind settles in the body.
Echécatl the breath, the flint & spark.
the house of prayers.

I am

when sounds exchange questions
when light enters the lung
when given

the noun:                a variable absence
a law               pinned to a quail's wing.

First appeared in New American Writing. Copyright © by J. Michael Martinez. From Heredities (LSU, 2010) by J. Michael Martinez. Appears with permission of the author.

J. Michael Martinez

J. Michael Martinez

J. Michael Martinez was born and raised in Greeley, CO. He is

by this poet

poem
A hollowed singularity exists in flowers 
like pathos in a dandelion: 
an eddy of fate, degreeless, 

silvering through memory.
A scabbed consonant departing
the sentence: locust petal, bromeliad, 

a surfacing shame, lightless, beyond hearing.
Solitary, the clock circumvents sound
and a horse importunes 

a
poem

               as the meat
               within the shell

as the shell before the caw

a bleached weed
               a fig
dusted to sweet the skin

egg albumen of peacock
               butterfly

held to the ivory of oxen hoof
               

poem

Imagine—in front of us—they silently pass. And they believe unrelated
   objects are machines
for recognizing the human. And, again, we are no longer interruptions.

Imagine—in front of us—the beginning is not a study. And they believe
   the cicada's larva
reveals narrow secrets. And we