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Eavsdrop into the melliflous place of sung poetry 


Psaltery and Serpentines

Published by Gival Press


ISBN-10: 1928589529
ISBN-13: 978-1928589525

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Gival Press is pleased to announce the publication of Psaltery and Serpentines: a book of poems by Cecilia Martinez-Gil, winner of the Gival Press Poetry Award.


The book is also a finalist for the 2010 ForeWord Reviews’  Book of the Year Award for Poetry. A finalist in the USA National Best Books Award for Poetry – 2010 and is the Runner-Up for the 2010 Los Angeles Book Festival Poetry Award.

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“Psaltery and Serpentines,” takes the reader on a journey to distant shores and places that are familiar to the soul and very close to the heart. Readers are invited to imagine through their senses and to find themselves in the experience. In this collection of poems is something akin to human nature. It is associated with the primal and the divine. Readers should keep “Psaltery and Serpentines” handy and read from it from time to time to elicit and elate magical places within their own beings.

so at the end
my spirit can unravel the notes
and land on my skin, and leap onto this page
as written, wriggling, writhing words
like serpentines. (p.1 psaltery and serpentines)

our bodies are boundless beings
dancing on the ground in rebellion
and crumbling into waves of an indescribable sea (p. 13 era de tango)

while getting naked
through his playing fingers
distant sheets of beliefs
aim geographically to dictate
the turns of my extended body (p. 19 a sunset left behind)

i stayed
but my shadow walked away looking back
to show me that i was pinned to his winter coat. (a shadow pinned to hi winter coat p.23)

Montevideo is mute
a city that does not speak unless it does
at winds’ will
so i won’t forget this one feeling of loving her. (Montevideo’s mouth p.25)

rush into the arms of your lover
to hear of other rites of tides
hurled from whispering voices
and fostered by gentle claps. (p. 61 rites of ashes)

i have a poem wrapped around my tongue.
wet vowel, vacillating consonant
drapery of words that come to
exist through me, today. (p. 51 lexis of emotions)

we are here
ignoring evolution
petal and ivory made flesh
we are the origin of the world. (p.37 lusting love)

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“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

“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

“Reading Cecilia Martínez-Gil’s collection of psaltery serpentines, one feels the supremacy of metaphor and music over meaning and sense. “

-Prof. Mario René Padilla, Santa Monica College

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Absolutely a must-have!

Cecilia Martinez-Gil seduces the reader with her powerful, almost surrealist sensuality. This collection is a rollercoater for all five (if not six) of the reader's senses, and appeals to your every physical and psychological whim. Psaltery and Serpentines is a dream, a fantasy come to life, a realization of your wildest desires, a love affair with music and nature, every word a possibility and every line a revelation. BRAVO!!!

-Oksana Lutzenco (educator, writer, human right activist))




A Magical Seduction

Cecilia Martinez-Gil's Psaltery and Serpentines explores the relationship between the rational and the irrational - mind and desire - in language that transcends conventions. From the music of dreams to the riots of Uruguay - prepare to be intrigued and enthralled. Psaltery and Serpentines is a magical seduction.

-Clifford Bernier, author of The Silent Art (2010 Gival Press Award Winner)



Kissed by a book!

Well if Mr. Seal can say in one of his songs that he was kissed by a rose on the grave, I should say now that I was kissed by a book on my bed, Psaltery and Serpentines salty and only as much passionate as a Latin woman can be. Very good! The perfect doses ... one poem by night before to go to bed.

-Pablo Moline (film director, producer and writer)



A Decadent Event, A Celebration of Poetry

Martinez-Gil's writing is a corporeal experience. So reading her poetry feels like eating. And it's a decadent event - Martinez-Gil gives a rich taste, form and texture to every character on the page. How interesting that "mouth" appears throughout her poems. Not only is the mouth an instrument of speech, but it's also a channel for nourishment and pleasure. I know the poet in person and she likes to joke about her Uruguayan accent but I think her spin on the English sound gives body to her writing. So when I read her work, I hear her narration and every now then, I notice how her tongue struggles to contain foreign syllables but always, she tames it in her own way: by mutating it.


I love the primal intimacy that she teases out of a language as uptight as English. It's like she wove the sensuality so native to her culture into a foreign terrain - and facilitated the languages to mate. The result: she demonstrates that what gets "lost" in translation is, as a matter of fact, the real substance and the real stage where it becomes apparent that "sense" is overrated. The human condition/experience is fundamentally impossible to make sense of.


Cecilia Martinez-Gil boldly demonstrates that when you make language your own (fold it entirely into your body), the hinges that create structure and order shatter. They immediately become irrelevant and trivial. What matters is what's left when all the rules are broken. Only then will you fully experience the concentrated - or irreducible - substance which is life itself.


This book is, in many ways, a tribute to the true purpose of poetry.


-Honor Chang (home styler)

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