Shaman’s poetry collection explores disability and the Ifá religion from a woman’s point of view

San Francisco, CAWhen I have wandered long enough what am I still beholden to? 

Ifá. Nature. Illness. Love. Loss. Misogyny. Aging. Africa. Our wounded planet. In this sweeping yet intensely personal collection, Lauren Martin tells the untold stories of the marginalized, the abused, the ill, the disabled—the different. Inspired by her life’s experiences, including the isolation she has suffered as a result both of living with chronic illness and having devoted herself to a religion outside of the mainstream, these poems explore with raw vulnerability and unflinching honesty what it is to live apart—even as one yearns for connection.

But Night of the Hawk is no lament; it is powerful, reverential, sometimes humorous, often defiant—“Oh heat me and fill me / I rise above lines”—and full of wisdom. Visceral and stirring, the poems in this collection touch on vastly disparate subjects but are ultimately unified in a singular quest: to inspire those who read them toward kindness, compassion, and questioning.

“Intimate and political…contemplative and strong” –Kirkus Reviews

“Night of the Hawk”

Lauren Martin | May 14, 2024 | She Writes Press | Poetry

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-64742-658-3 | $17.95

“The poems gathered here address themes of survival, chronic illness, shamanism, and feminism against the backdrop of daily life. . . . The diversity of experience examined makes for a collection that is both full and human. A whole life in one volume.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Night of the Hawk is a luminous and numinous collection about women and men, about betrayal and forbearance, about endurance, death, and art, and, most essentially, about the search for a sacred path through life. There is so much love in these poems”

–Michael Laurence, award-winning playwright

“Lauren’s poems drop into your psyche and ripple outward, echoing in the moments of life. Their beauty haunts.” 

–Sallie Ann Glassman, Head Manbo Asogwe of La Source Ancienne Ounfo

LAUREN MARTIN is a psychotherapist, poet, and a devoted Ìyânífá of Tunisian heritage and of Sephardic/Mizrahi descent. She lives in Oakland, California. Lauren studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She spent years writing without submitting her work due to a long shamanic journey, which led her to both Ifá, and to the writing of this collection of poems. Learn more at: 





In an interview, Lauren Martin can discuss:

  • Her perspective as a woman aging in contemporary culture
  • The importance of nature in Ifá and in her poems
  • Writing about disability and chronic illness
  • How her poems, which often reflect on the inhospitable world around us, ultimately call readers to compassion and questioning

An Interview with

Lauren Martin

1. What was your shamanic journey like?

That’s a tough question and one that is incredibly difficult to distill into a few sentences. Like most truly shamanic journeys, it was arduous and unpredictable. My journey meant that I was constantly negotiating my relationship to the dead.

2. What would you like others to know about Yoruba culture and the Ifá religion?

Ifá is considered the root of all religions and there are seeds of Ifá in many organized religions. Ifá has the pitfalls of other religions but the spirits of nature exist outside of human control and are available to all of us. 

3. How does Ifá influence your poetry?

Ifá is the prism through which I understand the world. The Òrìsà are my deepest relationships with whom I feel profound resonance. Those concepts of reverence towards the natural world as representations of God, manifest organically in my work.

4. What is your writing process like?

I am a medium and more often than not, I dream my poems. I wake and they are with me. I don’t do many rewrites and perceive them as gifts.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from this collection?

An openness to difference and kindness in the face of the disabled, the strange and the unfamiliar. Reverence towards nature and eldership.

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