Heaven’s Gate, a book of poems by UM student Alexander Martin, is inspiring a renewed interest among UM students in contemporary poetry.
Martin, a 23-year-old senior from Miami, is a creative writing major who has experienced personal tragedies that have aged him beyond his 23 years.
The book is a collection of poems that fall under the genre of “urban spirituality” and reflect Martin’s life experiences growing up in the culturally diverse environment of Miami.
Martin’s father committed suicide before he was born. He was raised by his mom and three older sisters in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.
He was the first in his family to graduate from high school and always saw himself as destined to succeed.
“It’s truly amazing for a young individual such as Alex to be a student and also to publish a book at the same time,” Cecilia Suarez, junior, said.
Martin started his writing career by publishing an independent newspaper called the Cipher from 1997 to 2001 that focused on the underground Hip Hop scene and urban music culture.
Martin says that the demands of being both a student and an author have forced him to manage his time well.
“Being busy allowed me to improve my time management skills and focus on doing work for classes and spending time on my writing projects,” Martin said.
He wants his book of poetry to reach out to a diverse group of people who seek a deeper level of understanding in their lives.
“I want the poems in Heaven’s Gate to be able to inspire people to reach another level in their personal life,” Martin said.
Martin has performed many of his poems live at open mic nights and at local poetry slams in Miami.
The book has been popular among various sections of the UM student body.
“Alex’s poems take you to a deeper level of thinking and allow you to think outside the box,” Rodney Rouzard, junior, said.
According to Martin, the title Heaven’s Gate was chosen for two different reasons.
“I used the title Heaven’s Gate for shock value so people would be intrigued and come up to me and ask me about the book,” Martin said. “On a deeper level, the title can be interpreted as using your mind to reach Heaven.”
Martin has been selling his book in the UM Breezeway for the past week and has been personally discussing the poems with readers and signing copies of the book, which can be purchased for $5 a copy.
The poems, with titles such as “Silent Love” and “Earth Cannot Contain Me,” have challenged and inspired readers.
“The poem ‘Stolen Souls’ is what intrigued me to buy the book. I love the content – it’s an expression of mixed culture with true moral statements all brought together,” Silvana Marmolejos, freshman, said.
Along with moral and spiritual overtones, Martin’s poems are infused with sexuality and discuss issues that college students can relate to.
“Alex’s book is off the hook. It has an uplifting spirit and something for everyone,” Junkori Davis, junior, said. “My favorite track is a sensual poem titled ‘Body Talk.'”
Martin used his own company called Origin Omni Media to handle the design and publishing of Heaven’s Gate.
Martin plans to promote his book at Florida International University this semester and is working on his next book, a yet-untitled collection of new poems and short stories that he hopes to sell nationwide.
Ben Enfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org