PERSONAL: Born in New York, NY; daughter of Victor (a mechanic) and Doris N. (a homemaker and poet) Martinez. Ethnicity: "Puerto Rican." Education: Syracuse University, B.A., 1983; New York University, M.A. (educational theatre), 1989; Fordham University, M.A. (educational administration), 2000; attended Barbara Seuling Manuscript workshop, 1992–2000. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Marathon runner.
ADDRESSES: Home—73-12 35th Ave., No. F3, Jackson Heights, NY 11372.
CAREER: Educator, writer, and artist. New York City Board of Education, New York, NY, elementary teacher, staff developer, and mentor, 1983–85, 1989–; visual artist. Member, Queens Council of the Arts, Flushing Town Hall Arts Council, and Women's Studio. Exhibitions: Artwork included in collection at Woodhall Hospital Maternity Ward and exhibited in galleries.
MEMBER: Queens Council of the Arts, Flushing Town Hall Arts Council, Women's Studio.
AWARDS, HONORS: Books for Young People award, (Peterson, NJ), 2005.
Poe Park, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Number One Chica, a young-adult novel; When Tito Plays Timbales, a picture book.
SIDELIGHTS: A teacher and visual artist who has exhibited her artwork in and around her New York City home, Agnes Martinez made her writing debut with the 2004 publication of Poe Park, the story of a young boy who overcomes life-altering devastation with courage. Starting out the summer after fifth grade, eleven-year-old Enoch Morales is looking forward to several months of freedom, where he can relax and have fun with his friends. All thoughts of fun come to an abrupt halt, however, when his best friend Spencer is shot and killed, a tragic casualty of the area's gang violence. To further complicate matters, Enoch's older half-brother Miguel arrives from Puerto Rico. Miguel, who has come to live with Enoch and his family, soon is drawn to the allure of the gang life, and although he sometimes behaves like a concerned older brother, Enoch is unsure how to deal with him.
Martinez brings to life both her characters and the story's setting "in a vivid and accessible manner that will make readers care about the boy's problems and their resolution," commented Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, while School Library Journal writer Faith Brautigam praised the novel for reflecting "the sights and sounds of a large city." Reviewing Poe Park for Black Issues Book Review, Suzanne Rust wrote that, "in a poignant and well-written story, Martinez captures the voice of the spirited" young protagonist. In Kirkus Reviews a contributor praised the book's narrative as "beautiful without losing street credibility."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, January-February, 2005, Suzanne Rust review of Poe Park, p. 70.
Booklist, November 15, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Poe Park, p. 602.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 2004, Timnah Card, review of Poe Park, p. 174.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Poe Park, p. 964.
Language Arts, May, 2005, review of Poe Park, p. 402.
School Library Journal, October, 2004, Faith Brautigam, review of Poe Park, p. 172; July, 2005, Coop Renner, review of Poe Park, p. 45.
Queens Council on the Arts Web site, http://www.queenscouncilarts.org/ (December 19, 2005), "Agnes Martinez."