poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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.

Disciplines [If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling]

Dawn Lundy Martin

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, the content of the prayer, and perhaps its object. If there is a mother praying, she is on her kneels over some object, as one does not often pray in the middle of the room. One prays at the window or over the bed, the head bent slightly up or down, the eyes open or closed. This is a prayer for prayers, you know, a wanting something equal to a prayer, even though I am not a mother.

Originally appeared in jubilat. Copyright © 2010 by Dawn Lundy Martin. Used by permission of the author.

Originally appeared in jubilat. Copyright © 2010 by Dawn Lundy Martin. Used by 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

poem

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

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

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,