May 22, 2018

NYS Writers Institute: David Tomas Martinez, May 1

There is a new regime at the NYS Writers’ Institute & while they continue to bring world-class writers to UAlbany they are reaching deeper into our own writing community to bring the talents there to the audiences that attend these free events. Tonight’s reading by prize-winning poet David Tomas Martinez was the next-to-last in the semester’s (& season’s) impressive lineup.

Courtney Galligan
Mark Koplik, the Writers Institute’s Assistant Director, introduced a string of Albany students to perform their own spoken word poetry before introducing the featured poet. The student readers were Alicia Bonnard reading the autobiographical “Stardust;” Maggie Gorman with the memoir “Grandpa;” Fetuma Diello read “Sin;” Ivy Portes' piece was the grim “Maggots;” Courtney Galligan, the managing editor of Compendium, read “The Pain of Childbirth;” Destiny Brown’s untitled piece quotes the murdered Eric Garner “I can’t breathe;” Amy Savage was invited up from the audience to read an excerpt from a story on bonobos in a lab experiment; & Laurin Jefferson said she introduced using her “government name,” her writing name is Laurin DeChae, & read “That Black Light is So Cliché.”

Under most circumstances that in itself would have been a excellent program, but the featured poet David Tomas Martinez was next, introduced by UAlbany professor Michael Leung. Martinez started with 2 pieces from his 2014 book Hustle, reading a section from the poem “Calaveras” a childhood story from when he was in school, & “The Only Mexican” about “baby-sitting” his Grandpa. Then on to his just-published Post Traumatic Hood Disorder, “They Call Him Scarface Because He’s Sad” with gang members reading Nietzsche, “Fractal” on marriage & drinking, selections from “Found Fragment on Ambition,” & “And Three” on minorities in lit class, a dictionary as a Bible, & becoming a poet. From there he went on to read 2 new poems: “Distract” which he said was the first time he had read it out, with intricate wordplay on the names of rappers, & a “A Letter from DTM for Matthew Oldman” a friend.

I for one am looking forward to the new season of the NYS Writers Institute, particularly if they continue under the Directorship of Paul Grondahl to bring in local writers to share the stage with the A-list writers that the Writers Institute is renowned for bringing in to our community. Check out their website & support the good work they do.

[Note: I recognize that I may not have gotten the spelling correct for all the names of the student readers; corrections are welcome & may be noted in the comments section of this Blog, from which I will make corrections to the text.]


lisa said...

Paul Grondahl himself is local and those changes seem very democratic. Great blog.

Michael Huber said...

Thanks for the excellent write-up on the David Tomas Martinez event. It was wonderful to see him engage so readily with the students, especially at our 4:15 event in Standish Hall.
So glad to see you at so many events. Your longtime support of all things writing and writerly is admirable. Stay tuned for a sweet lineup coming this fall!
Mike Huber, NYSWI