We had another performance of original poetry and music on February 5th by ZOOM.  Creativity continues, as always, and a way to share our creations happens even during the social precautions of the pandemic.  

The performers and those listening were Carla Joy Martin, Chris Nielsen, Eric Osborne, Fabian, Faith Logan, Heather Ponek, Kimberly Ramirez, Lola Jimenez, Portia Choi, Suzanne Weller, Viridriana Pena and Yulisa Cervantes.  

The poet who was interviewed was Carla Joy Martin, who is also the co-host for the Open Mic.

Interview with Carla Joy Martin, Zoom First Friday Open Mic, February 5, 2021

By Portia Choi

Here is the poem Carla shared with us that evening:

To Sophia

by: Carla Joy Martin

One quiet winter morn
You were born.
Clouds covered the sky,
The air was cool and fresh,
Earth was holding her breath,
Waiting for the emergence
Of a new life.

Then you arrived!
Lifted up by the doctor,
Given to your mother and father to hold —
Perfect little fingers,
Curling little toes, 
How amazing!
How wondrous!
You are healthy and whole!

Welcome to our world, 
Your name is a name of beauty
And braveness.
Women before you 
Have risen out of poverty,
Surmounted obstacles,
Brought loveliness and light
To a dark and hurting world.

May your life be filled with wonder.
May your soul be as quiet and peaceful 
As the morn you were born.
May you always bring joy
Into people’s hearts.
We celebrate the arrival of you —

By Carla Joy Martin

Q.  What inspired you to write your poem?  What is its back story?

A.  One morning this winter, it was cloudy and smelled of rain.  The whole world just seemed expectant, for some reason.  Out of the blue, I received a text from a dear friend who announced her daughter had just given birth to a little girl named Sophia.  My friend sent a darling photo of her grandchild wrapped up in a snuggly, captioned, “Our new burrito!”  It hit me how momentous a moment this was – that a new soul had just entered our world – and out poured this poem.  I sent it to my friend that day.

Q.  How did you become interested in poetry, in general? 

A.  I lived in St. Andrews, Scotland when I was five and six years old.  My mother read me Mother Goose rhymes almost every day. They are really popular for children over there.  I learned to speak with a proper Scottish brogue.  I used to practice rolling my r’s in the bathtub at night!  Scottish is such a musical, lilting dialect.  I know that was my first experience of the importance of how language sounds.  I still enjoy listening to my CD of the great Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, reading Robert Burns’ poetry.  It takes me back to the days I was first learning a “new” language, and how much fun it was.

As for later in life, I started writing poetry in earnest after my divorce.  While sitting in the Barnes & Nobles Café in the afternoons.  I poured out my grief.  Then I started looking around and wrote a whole series of poems about the different people I observed in the café.  I heard about First Friday Open Mics and, on a whim, attended one and performed.  It was such a cathartic experience, and everyone was so warm and welcoming – I was hooked. 

I joined Writers of Kern and met three amazing women in a poetry critique group.  They helped me hone my craft.  But my greatest inspiration came when I fell in love with another local poet. The flood of poetry that came out of that beautiful, yet bittersweet experience became my first chapbook, A Kaleidoscope of Love.  

Poetry is best when it comes from your heart, when you are trying to make sense of something, trying to find words for an emotion, an experience, even heartache.  And, as I said before, it’s cathartic.


Q.  You interview participants at First Friday Open Mics for the website, KernPoetry.com.  What is it like for you to connect poets with other poets and lyricists?

A.  I enjoy getting to ask local folks about their poetic journeys.  I’ve interviewed people from all walks of life and everyone’s story about how they came to write poetry is different, yet, in some ways, the same.  We all are searching for something – an understanding – of our world and our place in it.  I am astonished at the vibrant, thoughtful, and often humorous poets that live in Kern County.  It really is astounding.  And so many young people are turning to poetry now, across the nation.  I believe poetry is experiencing a renaissance all over the world.  It is exciting to witness. I hope my interviews on KernPoetry.com introduce people to new poets they can enjoy.

Q.   Give us a glimpse into your creative process.

A.  I journal almost every night.  I let out all my concerns, worries, hopes and dreams into little black moleskin books.  I don’t edit or even re-read the entries very much – but getting my thoughts out on paper often leads to new poems.  I find whenever something is troubling me, or I feel a strong emotion, whether its joy or fear, then I am compelled to write a poem about it.  Poetry is how I make sense of the world.  Creating a poem may not solve a dilemma, but the process will soothe my soul.

When compiling A Kaleidoscope of Love, I found I had poems that expressed the many emotions one has when entering a meaningful relationship.  My book sweeps the reader up in a love journey.  It has been wonderful to hear from friends, family and total strangers who say this book touched them.  I am busy trying to write more poems for another collection!