One day in 2008, after not writing for almost 10 years, JENNIFER MARTELLI searched “poetry workshops on the North Shore of Massachusetts.” She signed up for the first “hit” that came up, a Sacred Poetry workshop led by JENNIFER JEAN at the now-defunct Cornerstone Books in Salem, Massachusetts. Both Jennifers bonded over poetry, parenthood, and publishing—and a great friendship was formed! They continue to write together, travel together (because Jennifer Martelli is afraid to drive over bridges, Jennifer Jean takes the wheel), and share their work.
In this interview, Jennifer Jean asked Martelli about her latest collection, TheQueen of Queens, which explores the political and emotional zeitgeist of the present by probing the past in a lyrical, smart, and singular voice. Jennifer Martelli’s poetry is the self-deprecating inheritor of Sylvia Plath and Marie Howe.
No One Wore Pearls Anymore: Jennifer Jean interviews Jennifer Martelli
Jennifer Jean speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “California,” which appears in The Common online, in a special portfolio of writing from the Lusosphere (Portugal and its colonial and linguistic diaspora). Jean talks about writing this poem to be in conversation with Joni Mitchell’s song of the same title, and how music works its way into much of her poetry, in both rhythm and language. She also discusses writing her new poetry collection Object Lesson which centers on trauma, and co-translating poems by Iraqi women poets with an Arabic translator.
As part of this fall’s Lusosphere portfolio, The Common will publish accompanying work online. This month’s poetry feature highlights the work of three Lusa-American poets, tracing their roots back to the Azores and Cape Verde: Jennifer Jean, Nancy Vieira Couto, and Carolyn Silveira.
What if there were no light, he wondered. Just sound & scent owning the night, without the invasive
Surf Shop green neon, or PCH streetlamps glowering at everyone.
Their glint was wrong, false, while the waves sounded
like aloe on a burn, a quick fix.
Some blue & some red lights also flooded the water—flashed