The 2019 winning recipient of the Terry J. Cox Poetry Award
Martha Kalin grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee, and comes from a long line of word-lovers. Her father was a chemist devoted to making dyes for color film and her mother was an arts reviewer and columnist for the local newspaper. They read to her, sang to her, recited Longfellow, involved her in theater, and encouraged her to write, though neither could have predicted how resolute she would be about writing poetry rather than something more practical. Her mother claims to have saved all the poems she ever wrote, though not the gift of a garbage can plastered with poems Martha gave her parents one Christmas.
Martha studied English Literature at Brandeis University where she had the great honor of studying with two remarkable poets: Louis Simpson and Allen Grossman. It was Grossman who influenced her love for the romantic poets and Walt Whitman, and who believed that poetry is a principle of power invoked by all of us against our vanishing. Both of these literary masters encouraged her not to pursue academia but to keep reading and writing poetry. Martha was awarded the American Poets Honorary Prize from Brandeis upon graduation. She went on the earn masters degrees in Social Work and Public Health from the University of Michigan and during this time was awarded a Hopwood Award for Major Poetry.
Over the years, as she developed a career in health care, raised a daughter and, even spent a number of years as a meditation and yoga teacher in the Colorado mountains, she continued to read and write poems, often without anyone knowing. Poetry served as a sacred space, a place where she could contemplate the mysterious underbelly of life, that which we touch in dreams, where she could explore life’s puzzles, colors, characters and loves.
About ten years ago, she stumbled on Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Denver’s thriving literary community. At Lighthouse she had the opportunity to study and learn from fine teachers and fellow writers. She completed a chapbook that was published in 2013 by Green Fuse Poetic Arts. In 2016 she completed Lighthouse Writers’ two year intensive Poetry Book Project, a time that spawned her newest manuscript How to Hold a Flying River, a project that actually took her more than four years to complete.
In addition to Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Martha has been honored to participate in several residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and in 2018 completed The Writer’s Hotel mini-MFA program and NYC Writers Conference. The poets who Martha has read, listened to, and admired throughout the years are numerous, but those to whom she most particularly owes a debt of gratitude for their mentorship, influences and inspiration include Chris Ransick, Mark Irwin, and Marie Howe. Martha continues to live and write in Denver, Colorado where she works for University of Colorado’s Department of Family Medicine, developing programs for vulnerable and high risk patients. Her recent publications include poems in Anastamos, Don’t Just Sit There, Inklette, Hospital Drive, Panoply, San Pedro River Review, and the anthology Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century published by University Press of New England. Her chapbook Afterlife and Mango, was published by Green Fuse Poetic Arts in 2013.
Regal House Publishing is delighted, and proud, to publish How to Hold a Flying River in the spring of 2020.