Psaltery and Serpentines
Winner of the Gival Press Poetry Award - 2009.
Runner-Up for the Los Angeles Book Festival Poetry Award 2010.
Finalist in the National "Best Books 2010" Awards for Poetry: General.
Finalist for the ForeWord Reviews' Book of the Year Award for Poetry 2010
"Psaltery and Serpentines kisses its readers on the mouth so that the poetry becomes 'the ripe fruit to . . . lips,' and one wakes to loving poetry, this poetry in particular. Cecilia Martínez-Gil welcomes the reader into the world of poetry as a partner in the creative act, and readers engage this book-length seduction as tango partners and 'symphonic creatures.' The title poem, the book’s first, 'warms this intimate anticipation / with a smile whose mouth dreams of you.' The 'luscious lyrics' of these sweet sounds together could turn 'audiences of statues' into play mates in the affair of Eden. The taut language of each poem is also a sultry music as the book’s title promises. By the time one has arrived at the poem 'your language opens the mouth of me' one has taken up residence in the intimate and joyful space of creativity. The rendezvous brings to steady light the ironic match between lecteur et écrivain: 'in each one of my spoken silences / you chose me / to ignite me in phosphorus.' Opening this book to any of its poems will sweep the imagination into the poet’s creation, and its reviewer’s lips will burn for hundreds of kisses." —Rich Murphy, author of Voyeur and judge for the 2009 Gival Press Poetry Award
"In these sensual poems, language itself is 'a blue garland of desire,' infusing the world with beauty, magic, and sadness. Poetry is 'a temple where prayers become songs.' 'On this stage,' Martínez-Gil writes, 'the ongoing monologue/of a woman’s life/has the irresistible hope/born out of her own resilience.' This is a luscious and lustrous collection of poems, a delightful first book from a poet who demonstrates convincingly here both the gravity and the joy of her calling." —Gail Wronsky, author of Dying for Beauty
"Reading Cecilia Martínez-Gil’s collection of psaltery serpentines, one feels the supremacy of metaphor and music over meaning and sense. Her language is not so much a communication, but rather a melodic carpet ride, a sailing above mundane, loveless, sexless life, a ride that overwhelms sense, that allows one to forget reaching irritably for message in the meaning, so as to be in complete possession of Keats' 'negative capability'—allowing one to exist inside the seduction of sound, unanticipated metaphors, and the suggestion (hint really) of symbolic objects, to achieve not exactly what the poet means to say, but what the reader needs to hear. In the end, readers feel as if they’ve been kissed, stroked, seduced and satiated all in one exhilarating reading. From the first day Cecilia walked into my creative writing class this has been her poetic modus operandi, and I count myself fortunate to have mentored her journey, in some small measure, along her chosen path." —Prof. Mario René Padilla, Santa Monica College
A graduate of USC with a B.A. in comparative literature and cultural studies, Cecilia Martínez-Gil recently received a M.A in Spanish from UCLA and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in English and creative writing at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where she is also a teaching fellow. She has had work published in Voices: A Santa Monica Women’s College Publication, Anthology of Latin American Writers in Los Angeles, and Imaginarias: Antología de Poesía (Ediciones de la Crítica, Montevideo, Uruguay). She translated and adapted from Spanish to English the critically acclaimed book Escape de Punta Carretas: LA FUGA by Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro, for a film project in 1999. She also co-wrote and played the lead character in the award-winning experimental video Itinerarios, directed by Roberto Mascaró. Martínez-Gil has traveled throughout South America, Western Europe and the Caribbean. She is originally from Montevideo, Uruguay, but currently lives in Santa Monica, California.