Demetria Martinez is an author, activist, writing coach, and speaker from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She graduated from the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. For Martinez, writing and activism are ways to explore---and bridge borders between people of different nations, languages, spiritualities and life experiences. She has read from her work around the US, Central America and Mexico. In a presentation called "What then Shall We Do?" she discusses the history of the Sanctuary Movement and the crisis along the US border with Mexico. Martinez believes that artists and writers must be on the forefront of social justice movements, working and writing against a narrative of hopelessness that can paralyze those who yearn for a better world. Her honors include the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Latino/Chicano Literature as well as numerous other recognitions for her writings.
Martinez's widely translated novel, Mother Tongue, is based in part upon her 1988 trial for conspiracy against the United States government in connection with allegedly smuggling Salvadoran refugees into the country. The charges carried a 25-year prison sentence. A religion reporter at the time, she was covering the Sanctuary Movement, activism by citizens who defied immigration law by aiding refugees fleeing Central America. A jury acquitted her on First Amendment grounds. Mother Tongue, published by Ballantine in 1997, won a Western States Book Award for Fiction.
In The Block Captain’s Daughter, activists in Albuquerque, draw on the wisdom of their multiethnic/multinational roots in their struggle to better the world. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, it won a 2013 American Book Award. It also won the International Latino Book Award for best Latino focused fiction the same year.
In 2013, she co-authored an e-book with former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris, These People Want to Work: Immigration Reform. It describes the plight of five undocumented women who live and work in the United States, followed by an analysis of immigration reform.
Confessions of a Berlitz-Tape Chicana, a collection of autobiographical essays, includes columns that first appeared in the National Catholic Reporter. Topics include such far-reaching subjects such as the church’s treatment of women, Latina identity in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands as well as personal vignettes. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, it won the 2006 International Latino Book Award for best biography.
Martinez has published two books of poetry, Breathing Between the Lines (1997), and The Devil’s Workshop (2002), both with the University of Arizona Press. She also co-authored a bilingual children’s book, Grandpa's Magic Tortilla, with Rosalee Montoya. Published by the UNM Press, it received the 2011 Young Reader's Book Award from New Mexico Book Awards.
She works as a writing coach with clients writing in all genres. She has taught fiction at the Taos Writers Conference, and memoir at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.