We had the good fortune of connecting with C.L. “Rooster” Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi C.L. “Rooster”, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
The healthy habits I’ve developed over a number of years may seem small or easy, but the discipline is the key–staying committed to small, attainable goals and habits makes the larger goals and habits easier to act upon and commit to. Reading is definitely number 1 habit. In my field as a spoken word poet, I read a lot of poetry (contemporary and canonical). However, the “job” of being a writer in the 21st century extends way beyond putting words onto virtual or real pages. Nowadays, it requires self-marketing, self-promotion, self-information technology assistance, self-investment, networking, finding and creating platforms. Reading fuels my creative factory, keeps me engaged with an ever-changing entertainment world, helps identify trends, and stay ahead of contemporaries. I read books on psychology, food, business, travel, horror, management, satire/comedy, creative nonfiction, news from around the world, essays, social justice, technology, and criticism. Being a poet or writer is being tapped into an evolving and ephemeral world. I read to keep my literary mind exercised but also to peek into other occupations, lives, anxieties, hopes, and brilliance happening everywhere, all the time. Reading also is an active leisure activity that requires your attention. Unlike watching Netflix, reading doesn’t allow me to oscillate between text messages, Twitter, FB, IG, email, and the book or poem. Because it is an active leisure activity, I sometimes have to force myself to focus. Not all reading is fun, but I shut out distractions and do it. Bullet journaling is probably my second small but important daily habit. My memory is terrible, and I struggled with calendars and organizational apps for a long time. Daily bullet journaling puts my day/week/month into a perspective I can work with and am consistent at. It wasn’t enough to put events and times in a calendar for me. It became necessary to catalogue my habits, remind myself of important events, set a daily intention or reflect before the day starts (to put my mind into focus and ease), and still be afforded a freedom to improvise as things happen. My bullet journal–a 5″ by 7″ mini-spiral notebook– is my sidekick each day. I trust that what is important enough to act on is important enough to write down. Professionalism and punctuality are my last small but important habit. You can get very far as a working artist if you respond to emails quickly, return calls, return signed documentation and contracts back in a short time. Organizations and people like working with someone who treats their role as an artist professionally. I’m not encouraging obsequious behavior but when you respect the time, money, and effort of other professional, they’ll be more open to give more time, money, and professional opportunities. Professional attitudes and discipline helps foster professional relationships. One thing I’ve learned as a working artist is a lot of people are talented, but your hustle and professionalism make you stand out.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I wrote the majority of my young life but struggled mightily with depression and anger from a sense of purposelessness in young adulthood. I was a creative kid constantly told to have more practical dreams. But when you continually put a square peg in a round hole, either the peg breaks or the box breaks. Around the age of 27, the box broke for me. I held a good job but had zero contentment for the life I was living. Late one August evening, I found spoken word poetry. I walked into a dark, downtown bar in San Antonio, saw poetry performed in a way I’d never seen before, and decided to do that for the rest of my life. Once I committed to a path and purpose, it consumed my daily life. I was baptized in the Heckledome (a nickname for the San Antonio’s poetry slam where the crowd boos and heckles un-entertaining poets). I scrawled words and yelled to crowds in the dark. I learned how to navigate as a performing artist and never stopped learning.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The St Mary’s Strip for libations and people (when Covid ends obviously). We would eat: sreet tacos as Tacos El Regio on St Mary’s; breakfast tacos at Aguascalientes; El Tropico Ice Cream for paletas, limonada, or fruit with chamoy and tajin; and breakfast at Magnoila Pancake Haus. We’d go to the Blah Poetry Spot on Monday and PuroSlam with DJ Donnie Dee on Tuesday. We could go hiking, walk the river, or visit the missions. At the end of the week, we could cap off the vacation with Karaoke at one of the many rowdy spots we have.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to shoutout to my Grandmother. She recently passed away due to Covid-19 (Jan 23). She was a big supporter of my writing and performing of poetry. I’ll miss her tremendously and continue in on her memory.
Facebook: Rooster Martinez