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Martini, Clement M. 1956-

Martini, Clement M. 1956-

(Clem Martini)

PERSONAL:

Born August 25, 1956, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; son of Damien (an accountant) and Catherine (a school board trustee) Martini; married Cheryl Foggo (a writer), September 22, 1984; children: Chandra, Miranda. Education: University of Calgary, B.F.A., 1980; National Theatre School of Canada, graduate of playwriting program, 1982. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, bird watching, tai chi.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Office—Department of Drama, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. N.W., Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada. Agent—Janine Cheeseman, Aurora Artists, Inc., 19 Wroxeter Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4K 1J5, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, associate professor of drama, 1997—. Access Copyright, member of board of directors.

MEMBER:

Playwrights Guild of Canada (president, 2004—).

AWARDS, HONORS:

Award for excellence, Writers Guild of Alberta, 2000, for Illegal Entry, and 2002, for A Three Martini Lunch; Killam Foundation resident fellow, 2005.

WRITINGS:

Illegal Entry (play), Playwrights Canada Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.

A Three Martini Lunch (anthology of plays), Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2000.

The Field Mouse Collection (anthology of plays), Playwrights Canada Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

The Secret Life of the Octopus (play), produced at Quest Theatre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 2005.

The Blunt Playwright, Playwrights Canada Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

"FEATHER AND BONE: THE CROW CHRONICLES" SERIES; YOUNG ADULT NOVELS; UNDER NAME CLEM MARTINI

The Mob, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

The Plague, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

The Judgment, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Clement M. Martini told CA: "In 1999 I began working on The Mob, the first of what would become a trilogy of novels titled ‘Feather and Bone: The Crow Chronicles.’ The question people would most often ask when they heard about the project was ‘Why crows? How could you possible write about crows?’ That's the way they would say it, too, with crows in italics, as though even articulating the word was a little distasteful.

"Well. Here's how it began.

"It was the dawn of a cold spring morning. I was seated next to my youngest daughter, Miranda, and we were waiting for her school bus to arrive. An immense flock of birds cut across the sky, came to rest in a crooked poplar tree, and promptly commenced chattering with one another. Miranda turned to me and remarked that it was just like a family reunion. That got me thinking. What if it was a family reunion?

"I mean, what if it was? Literally. Like many humans, I had been conditioned to believe that animals could belong to things like herds and flocks and pods and packs, but animals couldn't possibly have families, and they certainly couldn't hold family reunions. But, why not?

"That question folded in nicely with something else I'd been ruminating on, and that was how badly people underestimated crows. Now, I happened to like crows. I always had. I liked the friendly, careless way they hung out with one another, and the rakish way they seemed to relish life, but for some reason, people delighted in hummingbirds, were inspired by swans, found eagles noble, but crows—crows just got on people's nerves. They were too everything: too noisy, too aggressive, too dark. And however many there were, there were always too many of them.

"It seemed to me that people had nothing good to say about crows; In fact, I found that in some places crows were still trapped or hunted as pests. Today, if you log on to the Internet, you'll find a number of Web sites devoted to killing crows, and you'll read of people that boast of bagging fifty or sixty at a time.

"The more I looked into crows, though, the more I learned. Rather than being pests, I found, crows play a major role in controlling pests. A large part of the crow diet consists of bugs, worms, larvae, grasshoppers, mice, and moles—all creatures that eat and destroy crops. I found out crows possessed many unrecognized virtues. They were loyal. When a crow puts out a distress call, other crows will show up from miles around to help. When a crow dies, others will gather and hold vigil. In general, crows mate for life. Far from being ‘bird-brained,’ I learned that crows were smart—crows have been witnessed constructing simple tools to fish food out of bottles. By the time I experienced these various epiphanies, I had commenced work upon my first book, and I had come to love watching crows.

"The thing that I began to realize was that everything that is messy and uncontrollable about nature gets up people's noses. And crows are absolutely, irrevocably, utterly unruly and completely, completely uncontrollable. As humans continue to strip the world of its last remaining wild species and drive species after species to the brink of extinction, crows have not only been able to survive, but thrive—and you have to believe that there's something to be learned from an animal as canny and resourceful as that.

"I began to feel that, by observing crows closely, it was possible not only to see a different side of crows, but also to glimpse a different and more complicated and resilient aspect of nature. We're trained to appreciate the fast and the flashy in life, but that can't be the whole story. If you watch crows long enough and listen to them hard enough, you begin to understand that nature is working with a large and subtle palette. So, in answer to those who ask how I could write about crows, the only answer I've got is, how could I possibly not?"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Mob, p. 329.

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