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

About this poet

J. Michael Martinez was born and raised in Greeley, Colorado. He is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and received an MFA 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 coeditor and cofounder 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 was published by Louisiana State University Press. His second book, In the Garden of the Bridehouse, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2014.

About his debut, 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 PhD in literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

White

J. Michael Martinez

               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
               pulling
               the space

between sins               I am

               as I am so

the host               on the tongue
               God of Bread

complexion of conquest
               the salt of Lot

as God is
               a crown of thorn
               diadem of wheat

so am I the echo
calling fossil back to name

amaranth ash               spread across the light

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.

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's collection Heredities was selected by Juan Felipe Herrera for the Academy of American Poets' ...

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 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

2
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