Meet the new poet laureate of the ABQ

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By Bill Nevins

Anna C. Martinez is Albuquerque’s sixth Poet Laureate, appointed June 29 at a gala ceremony at the Albuquerque Museum, to serve a two-year term beginning July 1 by the city’s Poet Laureate program. with Mayor Keller’s approval. Martinez, a mother and grandmother born in Los Angeles and raised in Española, New Mexico, is well known as a performing poet who delivers provocative, sometimes raunchy, and often humorous rants against injustice and ignorance. , as well as sultry, crowd-pleasing celebrations. incantations of shared pride and joy in our very special life and love experiences in New Mexico.

A resident of Albuquerque, she is the in-house poet of Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte in Taos and has held the ABQ Chicano/a City Slam Champ, Haiku City Champ, and 2019 City Slam Champ titles for one team. She is also a board member of Burque Revolt Poetry Slam and she often opens her home for free to touring poets. She was the featured poet at the recent 2022 Redwood Poetry Festival in Eureka, California.

On July 9 at 1 p.m., in his first official performance as Poet Laureate, Martinez will read a newly commissioned poem for the opening of the Albuquerque District International Library.

Her first book of poetry, “Pura Puta, A Poetic Memoir” was recently published by Casa Urraca Press. World-renowned author/screenwriter Jimmy Santiago Baca had this to say of “Pura Puta”:

“This collection of poems by Anna Martinez achieves, on so many levels, what so many other practitioners seek – primarily, poems from the deepest refuges of the heart and soul that overflow onto the page as ancient tribal love songs, war songs, heroic in their tone and righteous in their claims . . . -she is fearless, and . . . these poems will excite your intelligence, awaken it, and open your eyes as well as the heart !

A practicing civil rights lawyer and poet, Martinez took time out of her busy day on June 30 to chat with The Paper about her plans and hopes as the city’s leading poetic voice. Here is an excerpt from our conversation.

The paper.: What motivated you to seek to become a poet laureate?

Anne Martinez: Well, honestly, especially these difficult times that we find ourselves in. With the overthrow of Roe V. Wade, the pandemic, gun violence and other tragedies. People have been discouraged, but I understand that we’ve been conditioned to think that we don’t really have a say in how things go, and that’s not true. And I want young people – I have two grandchildren – to understand that and recognize, through poetry and other forms of expression, that they have a say in society, in its electoral process and in our common future together. This is the project I want to work on as Poet Laureate. I’m going to work in community centers in Albuquerque. I also hope to include legal information sessions for parents on how to survive this difficult system. I see civic engagement as a duty.

Do you foresee any challenges at the start of the implementation of your two-year program?

Well, I’ll have to work on outreach and publicity – those aren’t my strengths so I’ll welcome help from our community – to encourage as much participation as possible in these public forums on poetry, expression self, identity and survival. I also hope to present forums in schools and community organizations, to engage people in cross-generational and cross-cultural ways. You know I was bullied in school and I went through trauma in my life like a lot of us but I still kept writing my stories and over time they turned into poems. I even wrote love poems and songs for my friends! Performing poets like Carlos Contreras (with his great poem about New Mexico rain and his father’s Vietnamese service) and Jessica Helen Lopez and Mercedez Holtry and Sarita Gonzalez and her father Manuel, so many others have inspired me to Continue. And I want to help our young people, our women and others to realize that there is a creative outlet for them that can help them move forward. A pen, a paper and a thought, that’s all it takes!


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