Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, released in February 2020 from Deerbrook Editions. Also from Deerbrook Editions: NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE, WHERE IT GOES, and LEARNING BY ROTE. She has also written RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press).
She has been included in "The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018" (Black Mountain Press/The Halcyone Magazine editorial staff). Newberry has been widely published in literary journals in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in the city she adores, Los Angeles, with her husband Brian, a Media Creative.
What does poetry mean to you?
A great poet and friend, Djelloul Marbrook, has put it perfectly. It rang perfectly true for me when he said it and it does now even more.
“...poetry is self-discovery, it is about being a co-operator of the universe with the divine, a collaboration, and whether it is recognized or not, it is a necessary element in the divine alchemy. The poet is a co-imaginator and so her writing, her duty is sacred.”
What inspires your poetry?
Overheard conversations, bus rides, long walks, making love, cities, deserted towns, fears– (mine and others), the wind, a crack in the sidewalk, war, good food–nearly anything.
Although they are beautiful and wonderful, I am not usually inspired by children or my cats or automobiles. I’d love to write something about a car, something like Ginsberg’s “The Green Automobile,” but I’m not really sure if that’ll happen. I’ve read countless wonderful poems about children and animals, but with few exceptions, I can’t seem to write about them. Although I have written a recent poem about an elephant. I have to let that one sit awhile to see if it’s any good.
Which are most important to you: (1) joy, (2) peace, (3) patience, (4) kindness, (5) self-control, (6) faithfulness, (7) gentleness, (8) love, or (9) goodness? If you can, explain why.
Wow! I think all those things come under the umbrella of “love.” Real love brings its own peace with it; love requires patience; love can do nothing OTHER than be kind; love teaches us self-control which is necessary to faithfulness; gentleness is love’s touch; goodness is love’s bed partner.
What sort of things are you looking forward to improving this year?
I am constantly learning how to write poems. Just this last month, I became concerned about being “stuck” in one way or another–subject-wise, rhythmically, form-wise–so I got out my books on craft and began re-reading them and making new notes and re-discovering forgotten ideas. The University of Michigan series, “Poets on Poetry,” has been a kind of foundation for me. I don’t have degrees or certifications or much formal learning, but I do have many many books on craft, on imagery, on all things poetry and they have given me a good education. When I began to take myself seriously as a writer, I was given a great gift. I attended a poetry class given by Larry Kramer (R.I.P.). Amazing poet, he became my teacher and my mentor. I’ve pulled out my notebooks from meeting with him as well.
What is one big dream you have?
I want to win a BIG prize that will bring me lots of readers and book sales for my wonderful publisher, Deerbrook Editions (and myself). LOL!
Non-materially speaking, I want to continue to learn to write poems until I can no longer speak them.
(from “Blues for French Roast with Chicory”)
for Larry Kramer, Poet (in loving memory)
I don’t understand snow,
never having lived
in snowy climes.
I don’t depend on what
is underneath it
to reappear in Spring.
I don’t feel its curved
silence or relish
the perfection of every flake.
I haven’t seen a pink
sunrise reflecting off
it or the intense contrast
between the night sky
and the white ground.
I’ve not known snowy fields