Valerie is many things (writer, educator, consultant, arts administrator, collaborative artist) but defines herself first and foremost as a poet. She is the author of five books of poetry, a book of translations (of Uruguay's Delmira Agustini), a hybrid chapbook of prose/poetry, and her work has been published in dozens of literary journals and magazines.
Her most recent work, Count (University of Arizona Press, 2021), is a book-length poem that reckons with the heartbreaking reality of climate change. Forty-three sections of myth-gathering, flora and fauna, accounts of climate devastation, personal narratives, witnessing, references to works of eco-art, and evocations of children unfold over the course of the book, creating a deeply nuanced image of the current climate crisis.
Valerie's previous book-length poem, Each and Her (winner of the 2011 Arizona Book Award), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, the William Carlos William Award, the National Book Critics Circle award, the PEN Open Book Award, the Ron Ridenhour Prize, and was an honorable mention in the 2011 International Latino Book Awards.
Valerie was the Poet Laureate for the City of Santa Fe from 2008-2010.
Valerie is also a collaborative artist, working with other poets and writers, artists, dancers, composers, musicians on a wide range of special projects, the most recent of which was the world premiere of "As the Waters Began to Rise," by composer Peter Gilbert, performed by Ekmeles (Charlotte Mundy, soprano; Elisa Sutherland, mezzo-soprano; Tim Keeler, counter-tenor; Eric Dudley, tenor; Jeffrey Gavett, baritone and Steven Hrycelak, bass). In 2012, she and fellow eco-artists Bobbe Besold and Dominique Mazeaud walked the entire length of the endangered Santa Fe River, a five-day pilgrimage--Rivers Run Through Us--meant to draw attention to restoring this lifeblood of the community. Valerie is also the Founder of the EKCO Poets which has been creating spoken word performance pieces since 2009.
Valerie began her professional career as a college/university professor and spent 23 years teaching literature and creative writing. She finished her career as Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Santa Fe in 2009. She taught at the University of Arizona, Ursinus College, New Mexico Highlands University, University of New Mexico, College of Santa Fe, University of Miami, and the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA).
Valerie entered the field of community arts in 2007. She became a core artist and Executive Director with Littleglobe, Inc. (Santa Fe) and subsequently founded Artful Life (Albuquerque) which is dedicated to transforming communities through collaborative, community art. She has extensive experience large-scale arts and community engagement projects, working with artist teams (both adult and youth), community members, and partner organizations in the creation of neighborhood-based works of art.
Artful Life developed a model of arts-based community development that has been featured widely at conferences, trainings, and panel presentations for its innovation in the field of arts-based development particularly in communities of color. For this work she was nominated by President Barack Obama for the National Council on the Arts just before the 2016 presidential election.
Recently, Artful Life was the lead consultant for the City of Santa Fe's Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation, and Truth (CHART) initiative--a 12 month community engagement process sparked by controversies over statues and monuments and dedicated to truth, healing, and reconciliation. Learn more and read the final report at www.chartsantafe.com.
Valerie was the Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center from February, 2018, to July, 2021. There, she coordinated over 20 history and literary arts programs, 2-4 history and/or literary exhibits per year, archives and special collections, and a library and genealogy center.
Valerie Martinez has a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona. See her full curriculum vitae here.