amy writes an essay

A few weeks ago I receive an email from Amy: I wrote an essay about the challenges of finding healthcare for Sophie and how I wish a doctor would take the interest in her that you did when you were making your incredible piece on her.
STAT is publishing it — and the editor wants permission to use one of the images of it. Are you OK with that?
I reply: Of course. Yes. 

Martinez_Portrait of Sophie

This morning she sends the live link. I’m reading the essay when suddenly I hear Amy’s voice in the back part of my house. She’s talking about Arizona students with disabilities. The radio is going and The Show is on. This is how it is when one knows Amy Silverman.

Back to the essay…
It is a well-written and honest account about searching for health care for Sophie, Amy’s young – adult daughter with Down syndrome. I knew the piece would include my art. I didn’t know Amy would be writing so thoughtfully about my work. Thank you, Amy.

Here, the first two sentences…

Several years ago, a local artist asked if she could paint my younger daughter, then a tween, as part of a series of life-size portraits of people she knew.

Monica Aissa Martinez really gets under her subjects’ skin — the final product is more medical map than pretty picture, documenting the elements (both scientific and ephemeral) that make a person unique.

To read the complete essay →  Amy Silverman, STAT, The Agony of finding decent health care for my young-adult daughter with Down syndrome, June 2, 2023


a story about an artist-in-residence

March 2020 I receive an email from Amy Silverman…

I hope this finds everyone healthy and safe. I can’t recall a stranger, more unsettling time. The last time I felt normal was March 11 — the last time we had a Bar Flies show.

Sadly, as I’m sure you know or have guessed, we have had to put the live shows on hiatus for the rest of the season. So I’m dusting off and tweaking an idea I had for fall that will allow us to continue sharing stories with our community — from a safe distance.

Amy continues with an invite to participate in the inaugural Illustrated Bar Flies.

I often attend Bar Flies monthly story telling/live readings at Valley Bar, in downtown Phoenix. If you haven’t been…you should go. Thoughtfully curated, each story is a unique (wow) telling. There’s DJ’ing pre and post individual readings (shout-out to Deborah!).

As with all Bar Flies stories, this illustrated version is true. The theme is HOME.

April 2020  I’ve been home researching the crazy virus that appears to be taking over all of our lives. I’m now teaching my drawing class on-line. In the studio, I work a large abstract, mixed media study based on what I am learning about the coronavirus.

The week I get the invite from Amy, I’m out in the front yard and run into Reed, my next-door neighbor. And with this interaction, I decide I’ll participate. I want to try something new that’s fun AND I can clear up a misconception. 

My story title: Looking for the Truth

looking for the truth

you are never alone

they have an intelligence

real time information…dang! they reprogram a cell!

fomites…wash your hands!



I rest my case, artist-in-residence is the true story.

I learn to organize differently AND I have fun…enough to even have an ↓ outtake.

seeing eyes-balls that never make it into the story

#VirtualBarFlies #WeAreStillSocialDistancing #organic #linear #YouAreNeverAlone
#WhoAmI? #WhatIsThisWorld #WhatIsMyRelationshipToIt

May 2020 
Amy sent the invitation out to a group of people. Click on anyone of these links – go read them. Each story is true. Each story is different.
Phoenix Magazine  →  bar flies Archives
Instagram →flypaperaz
Facebook → Fly Paper, stories that stick
Eventually they’ll live on the Fly Paper website.

→ more about Bar Flies


hemming flames

I love what some writers can do with words.

Last January, Trish tells me about her soon-to-be-published book. The title is Hemming Flames, she says. My quickest thoughts… fire? forest fire? firemen? wild and out of control fires wanting to contain or control? The response is visceral…fire in the gut?

Months pass and now I hold the hardback book in my hands. I read the title and see the image and make different associations… a cover? clothing? that which we wear? fray? and again…control?

Whatever it is, it gets my attention and keeps it.

Hemming Flames is a beautiful hard back book of very personal poems written by Patricia Colleen Murphy.


The weekend before I get Murphy’s work, a friend drops over to pick up a book she lent me last summerI recall how I respond to Adrienne Rich’s book, Driving into the Wreck. The title and the words hold my attention. I read through the book the first day and then I have to put it down. It takes time for me to come back to it and read again – slow and careful. I have feelings of determination (to continue reading) and curiosity (understand).

The day I get my copy of Hemming Flames I read late into the evening and then some more first thing the next morning. The days that follow I come to it with curiosity and I have to say…once again that odd feeling of determination…to read with care and let it sink in.


I email Trish. I ask how people have responded. 

The book has been very well received. I am so glad it’s out in the world. A lot of people have mentioned that they feel it is a brave book. I’m glad for that because it was hard to be that brave.

I agree, she does courageous work.


 Turkish Get-ups

I thought she meant costumes but she meant
what’s inevitable when you’re down. It is how

to stay exceptionally strong, she says. She says
this to me often out of one of her many mouths.

We’re born prone, she says. Then we roll onto 
our bellies. Up, she says. Get up, she says. Get up.

I am down and I hear her in the other room.
Without visual clues, I can’t tell the exact

meaning of her statements. She says, it is not 
hyperbole if it is true. She says, you began life

as a vowel. She says, people incapable
of guilt can have a really great time.

Years ago, fresh out of grad school, I take lines from Sylvia Plath’s writing.  I creat a series of small drawings (stream of consciousness narratives).  Pulled in by how Plath organizes her words and thoughts, I want to make sense of her writing. I do this with Doris Lessing’s work too. I don’t work in this way anymore but it’s easy to imagine Murphy’s words could hold the framework for such a series.

Here are lines (from different poems) that catch my attention. I separate each by indentation. What I could draw out – I wonder…

I drop a smile into the tub
near the edge. Irretrievable!

and then he carves
sailboats into the linoleum.

all studium and no punctum

I spend all day in a room
with every item I will ever own

Doctor put me on the stare-pills.
I can’t feel my distal parts.

Brava Trish!
To learn more about Patricia Colleen Murphy and her work go to →


Patricia Colleen Murphy teaches creative writing at Arizona State University where she is the founding editor of the literary magazine Superstition Review. Her poems have appeared in many journals including The Iowa Review, Quarterly West, American Poetry Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, Natural Bridge, Black Warrior Review and others. She has received awards from the Associated Writing Programs and the Academy of American Poets, Gulf Coast, Bellevue Literary Review, The Madison Review, Glimmer Train Press, and The Southern California Review. A chapter of her memoir-in-progress is published as a chapbook by New Orleans Review.

four chambers 03

When Jake Friedman, Founder and Editor in Chief of Four Chambers Press, approached me about creating an artwork for a poem, I asked if we could stay within my general subject area. Yes. I also asked if he could send me something with plenty of time because I like to play with detail. He agreed to this too. He sent a number of writings and after reading through all of them I chose  My Mother’s Body, with Voice (A Microcosmographia) by Nat Fisher. I appreciated the work was about a mother’s body and I particularly enjoyed the word microcosmographia.  I read the poem a few times a day for many days. It was poignant.  I felt like it revealed itself to me one-sentence-at-a-time.


I appreciate Jake and all the work he does in our community. He juggles much and manages to do it with a light-hearted manner.  I learn Jake takes time to handwrite notes to the people he works with – such a nice touch.

more news …
Four Chambers 03 is officially live at

A hard copy is available for sale and includes 166 pages long and features 55 poems and 18 prose works from 55 authors (over 50% local) with 4 illustrations.
I do hope you can support Four Chambers and all the fine work they do.

Celebration will be at Changing Hands Bookstore, in Phoenix, on November 12th at 6:30.
You’re invited!  For more info → Facebook event.

The evening will include readings from Kelly Nelson, Christopher Danowski, Eric Wertheimer, Edward Kearns, Reese Conner, Melissa Tramuta, Gary Joshua Garrison, Kitt Keller and more.FC 03 Cover BlankFor more information and sample work visit
Congratulations to everyone!

Thanks Jake for inviting me to take part.

superstition reveiw, issue 9 – lanch party

Six Senses

if the hand is to the eye a heart,
then touch was the root.

Above are the last two lines from the poem Zodiac of the Sunflower by John-Michael Bloomquist. He is a first year MFA candidate in Poetry at Arizona State University.

The image is my collage included in the magazine. After hearing John read his poem I say to him I particularly like the last two lines to which he responds, they’d originally been the title of the work.  I moved them to the end of the poem. It made me think of how I work a collage, moving things around until the composition feels right.

Ten artists are invited to have artwork published in Issue 9 of Superstition Review, the Online Literary Magazine at Arizona State University. Artist Carolyn Lavender and I attend the launch party which is held at Art Intersection, in Gilbert, AZ.

Poet Gregory Castle reading his work.

It’s a different sort of experience for me. I have my camera, and I hope to capture visuals*. To my suprise, it’s not really visual at all.

While poets Gregory Castle (above) and John-Michael Bloomquist (below) read their poetry, I find myself closing my eyes, to really listen. In drawing class, I continuously remind my students to look closely and see. Now, I listen closely to hear.

Poet John-Michael Bloomquist reading his work.

Founding editor Patricia Colleen Murphy begins the main presentation. She speaks about the magazine, and introduces her staff. She allows us only a glimpse of the incredible work they do.  At one point she tells of the excitement one of the young ASU editors experiences as she interviews seasoned writer Sandra Cisneros.  I enjoy hearing the story as I’d read the personal interview earlier in the day. It had left an impression.

Patricia invites several of her editors to speak of their favorite project. I particularly appreciate hearing familiar words like depth, line and texture, to describe writing.

Carolyn Lavender talks about her work, The Wood , Preservation (on the screen).

Carolyn shares some words about her artwork. And then I follow. I don’t recall if I noted that words, phrases, and books influence so much of my work

I talk about the artwork Nothing is in Stasis.

I feel honored sitting among many wonderful wordsmiths. It’s a unique experience and a great peek into another one of the creative arts. Thank you Patricia and Superstition Magazine, for the opportunity.

Click on the photograph ↑ to read poems or see artwork.

Click to see  → Superstition Review. the Online Literary Magazine at Arizona Statue University

* all photos borrowed from →  Superstition Review’s Facebook.

As I prepare to upload this post, I remember that soon after arriving to the launch gathering, Carolyn and I head into two galleries where photographs are displayed. Twenty minutes or more may have passed since we’d left the group in the foyer. Patricia wonders in looking for us. Are you okay? We’d been gone a long time apparently. I smile, because of course it would only be natural to find us in the gallery. I’d been wondering why the entire group wasn’t in there looking at the art yet.

writers life workshop at modified arts

I met Crista Cloutier in 2000 when the Hispanic Research Center  of ASU commissioned me to create a lithograph.  At the time, Crista was the director of Segura Publishing where I showed up everyday for one very productive and exciting week plus, to work with their crew and with master printer Joe Segura.  She also directed their gallery. I admired her  ease and professionalism.

Crista, actively involved in the contemporary art world throughout her career, is also internationally recognized as a writer, curator, and artist. She’s collaborated in the creation of artwork with some of the most significant artists working today. Much of the work exists in major collections throughout the US.

In the last few years I’ve connected with Crista via Facebook because today she moves between England, France, and the U.S and contributes to publications such as Huffington Post, The Guardian UK, and You Magazine.

…and guess what…Crista will be at Modified Arts, just after the new year. She’ll be teaching The Writer’s Life Workshop.

The Writer’s Life is a two-day workshop for both established and aspiring writers. This unique class will help participants find their voice, hone their craft, and create meaning in their life and work. Students will learn how to connect to their imagination as well as identify personal vision and attain their professional writing goals.

If you like to write, and you’ve been looking to:

  • Identify your purpose and motives as a writer
  • Create professional goals and find the steps necessary to achieve them
  • Commit yourself to writing as an artistic practice
  • Understand the remarkable power of your muse and engage more deeply with your imagination
  • Learn to melt creative blocks

…then the workshop is for you!

Who: Crista Cloutier

What: The Writer’s Life Workshop

When: Tuesday & Thursday, January 4th & 6th, 2011
from 7:00-9:30 PM each night

Contact: Kim Larkin
Modified Arts

Where: Modified Arts
407 E. Roosevelt
Phoenix, AZ 85004

*Discount registration if you sign up by January 1st or bring a friend!

Learn more about Crista and her workshop…