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 in Albuquerque.

Poems by Demetria Martinez


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      Poetry Center Reading:  
    Fall 2004