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News Release

November 5, 2004

Latina Poet and Activist Demetria Martinez
To Read at Smith

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.— Smith College will present a reading by poet Demetria Martinez at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, in Stoddard Hall Auditorium. The event, sponsored by the Smith Poetry Center, is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

Committed to illuminating both our private lives and our public personalities, Martinez is both a poet and an activist. Chicano poet Jimmy Santiago Baca calls “The Devil’s Workshop,” her latest collection, “a tough and solitary celebration of the song [by] ... a solid and unflinching voice in Latina poetry.”

Born in Albuquerque and raised by her Mexican grandmother, Martinez’s poems gracefully and powerfully interweave religion, gender and ethnicity while probing the intimate interior of the human heart. By turns sensual, political and outraged, she writes from a conviction that transformation—of the world and of the self—is always possible. Martinez reminds us, notes the Bloomsbury Review, “that the most important political work begins and ends in the human heart.”

A committed social activist, Martinez has been on the forefront of the U.S. Sanctuary Movement. In 1988, when she was indicted on charges related to smuggling two Salvadoran refugees into the country, federal prosecutors attempted to use one of her poems, “Nativity, for Two Salvadoran Women,” to convict her. In a landmark decision, she was acquitted on First Amendment grounds. Her first novel, “Mother Tongue,” which won the 1994 Western States Book Award, was loosely based on her involvement with the Sanctuary Movement.

A graduate of Princeton University, Martinez is a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. She is involved with immigrants’ rights issues along the U.S.-Mexico border and teaches workshops on writing for social change. Her essay collection, “Confessions of a Berlitz Tape Chicana,” is slated for a spring 2005 release. She lives in Albuquerque.

A book sale and signing will follow Martinez’s reading. For further information, contact Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, director, at (413) 585-3368.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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