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Dawn Lundy Martin

Dawn Lundy Martin earned a BA from the University of Connecticut, an MA in creative writing from San Francisco State University, and a PhD 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. She is also the author of Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017); Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books, 2014); and Discipline (Nightboat Books, 2011), which was selected by Fanny Howe for the 2009 Nightboat Books Poetry Prize.

In 2004, she coedited, 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. In February 2018, Martin was the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor. She is currently an professor in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she directs the Center for African American Poetry and Politics.


Selected Bibliography

Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017)
Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books, 2014)
Discipline (Nightboat Books, 2011)
A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press, 2007)

By This Poet

8

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

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.

Disciplines [This is how much fortuitiveness weighs]

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. Hangs here, this balance, and one opens the car door and drives along the river where it said a crossing might happen. Had happened. Many times. Sticklers will say, not here. There are no crossings here. But, there the I is, reflection and delivered, on the other side. Like hams, I think,
holding on to what was.

Disciplines [Near adust. Caves. Closings]

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, meant for opening. A sex in training. Trimmed, fastidious. Damp reasoning. Yet, adherence. Mask the breasts. Mark the skin. You are not from here, are you? Part tissue. What does it feel like? It feels like everything else. It must be different from some other thing. No. This is what a woman's body is. An effort in covering or not covering. A way toward exits.