83: Michelle J. Martinez

Categories: 100 Creatives








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Courtesy of Michelle J. Martinez





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83: Michelle J. Martinez



Michelle Martinez was born in Arizona, but escaped to wander the mountains and rivers of Maine and Colorado. She came home to raise her children close to "familia" and study for an MFA at Arizona State. She's shown her work at eye lounge and Shemer Art Center; she's given poetry readings at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; and currently she's teaching and working on her PhD.

List five things on your inspiration wall, real or imagined.
1. Laughing with my children
2. Contributing to the strength and future of my community
3. The sound of old typewriters and the smell of old bookstores
4. My students
5. Memorable meals
6. My favorite quote that helps me work through mistakes: "You are never a failure as long as you can be used as a bad example."

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Courtesy of Michelle J. Martinez

What's your last big project? 
My last big project has been guiding my son from infancy to toddlerdom and my daughter from elementary school girl to junior high tween. Honestly, that has totally consumed my last two years. I have maintained smaller projects, but that has been the primary focus of my patience, resources, and creativity.

What's your next big project?
A book about the show Ugly Betty.

How much does it bother you to be asked what your next big project is?
I enjoy being asked. It forces me to verbalize it and often I am able to get some new perspective on what it is I am doing as I am speaking it, and that usually finds its way into the work.

What do you want Phoenix to know about you?
I go through periods where I shift mediums. Sometimes I will express myself through poetry, sometimes prose, sometimes visually (photography, paint, altars, film), and food (culinary poetry). A food blog will follow the Ugly Betty project.

What do you not want Phoenix to know about you?
I am an online Scrabble addict. I can not go a single day without playing a word.


Martinez also agreed to share one of her poems:

Red Shoes and Mixed Bones

Blueberry jam and Bukowski for breakfast
Chicana y Nuyurican sipping coffee
Bought at a bakery in East Harlem,
Holding hands on the way to El Museo del Barrio
Where the exhibit was Frida y Diego
Music from the churches and laughter from the park, mixing.
Why couldn't Frida and Diego mix their bones in death?

Fruit tarts and new red shoes,
Gifts from you in this city unfamilar.
Then there she was, out of millions, on a fine evening
Your ex, coming up the street,
Her eye on you, trying to breathe in your scent
With you making small talk and
Me trying to hold down homegirl voices
Telling me to knock that gabaucha back.

Here in this wretched city full of man made men
I try to find some earth, some connection, some air.
I am ill when she looks me up and down real quick
Then steps in close to you, looking just like I thought she would.
I search around for trees and soil, for God here and see
Only orange sunset choked by concrete and steel,
So much like Lorca's Dawn,
Black slime and wires twisted into gray.
Me, wondering why I am here, wanting to
run away in new red shoes,

which I look at and notice they are just like yours,
yours gray mine, red. In my mind I hear
East Harlem churches spill their songs,
Rhythms and praises, small gardens where viejos gather,
happy to have each other. I am nowhere now and peaceful there,
then she walks away,
and words must come.

The Creatives, so far:

100. Fausto Fernandez
99. Brian Boner
98. Carol Panaro-Smith
97. Jane Reddin
96. Adam Dumper
95. Mayme Kratz
94. Daniel Tantalean
93. Yuri Artibise
92. Lisa Starry
91. Paul Hoeprich
90. Betsy Schneider
89. Mary Shindell
88: Gabriel Utasi
87: Tiffany Egbert
86. Angela Cazel Jahn
85. Dayvid LeMmon
84. Beatrice Moore

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