Dedicated to illuminating both our private lives and our public personalities,
Demetria Martinez is both a poet and an activist. Jimmy Santiago
Baca calls her latest collection, The Devil’s Workshop, “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 sanctuary
movement. In 1988, when she was indicted on charges related to smuggling two
refugee women 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