Chloe Martinez (Poetry) | Claremont, CA
Chloe Martinez is a poet and scholar of South Asian religions. Her chapbook, Corner Shrine, was selected by Geffrey Davis as the winner of the 2019 Backbone Press Chapbook Competition, and her poems have appeared in Waxwing, Prairie Schooner, The Common, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. A graduate of UC Santa Barbara (PhD), the Warren Wilson College MFA for Writers, Boston University, and Barnard College, she is a former Holden Fellow and a Mellon Mays Scholar. She writes poetry book reviews for RHINO and helps organize a reading series, The Sprawwl, that features Warren Wilson MFA-affiliated writers in the greater Los Angeles area. She teaches at Claremont McKenna College.
- Corner Shrine (Backbone Press, 2020). Poetry.
Blurbs, Press, & Reviews
“Attuned to both the insights and the limits of visitation, the poems inside Corner Shrine are ripe with scene and sense as they contemplate the wonders of arrival alongside the worries of transience. As [POET] writes in the poem ‘Taj Mahal’: The monks go off to join the jostling, shoeless queue that narrows as it nears the doorway where people crowd into the dim chamber that is warmed and corroded by their breath, their echoing voices moving through it like wind in many careless languages. This tension between connection and disconnection returns often, as in ‘Leaving India, Before the Monsoon’: ‘I become a tourist. I buy what I can stuff in my luggage,/ and it all ends up a token thing[.]’ And the poem closes: ‘The old transformation is beginning, and everyone// has seen the usual signs: the sky darkens,/ the peacocks dance at the far edge of the field.’ I admire this chapbook’s careful turns toward a poetics of travel—across places and times, even across former lives—sometimes as a means to confirm what’s radical about belonging, sometimes as a means to sound a cultural alarm, but always, it seems, in the name of ‘a shape you could use.’”
—Geffrey Davis, author of Night Angler, winner of the James Laughlin Award
“‘Ten Thousand Selves’—a brilliant, meaningful title for a section of this brilliant, meaningful book. The Indian subcontinent seems to have at least as many interacting cultures as the rest of the world. These poems by Chloe Martinez meditate and narrate that multiplicity from a personal viewpoint. This collection is a masterful, intimate and informed work of art about culture itself, and the boundless forms of identity.”
—Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate
“Chloe Martinez’s Corner Shrine is a glittering poetry of place, inasmuch as ‘place,’ as Eudora Welty says, ‘can focus the gigantic, voracious eye of genius and bring its gaze to point.’ As focusing is an act of love, these closely observed, sensually rich, and tender travel poems are love poems to the lives we briefly inhabit. Martinez grants the reader the eyes of one who ‘stand[s] on a high parapet, in the rustle and coo of pigeons, under filigreed eaves’ but when ‘leaving the museum behind, [finds] rooms / as empty as the moon.’ She lays a feast of sound, scents, and sights; but also leads the reader inward, in the way travel often finds one ‘alone with your ten thousand selves.’ Martinez’s poetry is not merely ‘a story, not an image. It is a map.’ To amble through the passages of Corner Shrine is to be guided by a keen and reliable hand through a hall of mirrors, reflecting the mystery, beauty, and hungers of being fully human. These poems will leave you feeling transported, transformed, and dizzyingly alive.” —Angela Narciso Torres, author of What Happens is Neither