By Cecilia Gigliotti
Rae Martin isn’t your average 15-year-old.
I was shocked from the start to learn his age. The description that crossed my mind as I sat down with him is “mature beyond his years.”
He is precocious, well-read, and a realist. In telling me about his school – the Metropolitan Learning Center, a magnet school in Bloomfield – he termed his classmates “not my kind of people.”
But then, it seems, it’s tough to find people who are.
Martin is a writer – a serious writer, banging out one short story and several poems a week. While his subjects have thus far been based in reality, his newfound fascination with George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire has inspired him to write with a slightly fantastical slant.
He has never really been a fan of the obvious – the Harry Potter series – but he believes today’s consumers might find fantasy more attractive and “entertaining.”
His familial relationships contribute largely to his work. His parents are no longer together, and while his ties are closer to his maternal relatives than to his paternal, they have both played a pivotal role in his development.
They taught him common sense, he says. Through their lessons and his own convictions, Martin has come to believe that “while [people] have sympathy for fellow man, what they do … is self-serving.”
He is not religious, but quite philosophical: he often marvels at the way some people float through life without pondering the “deeper things.”
Then again, he acknowledges, in a world of squalor and injustice, some people can’t afford the room in their day to sit and “marinate on the world” for even a few minutes.
Who has spurred him to do some marinating of his own? What literary figures drive this aspiring novelist forward?
“I take a lot of inspiration from Charles Bukowski,” said Martin. In the style of Bukowski – whose 1982 novel Ham on Rye is one of Martin’s favorites – Martin endeavors in his own writing to “keep it real, keep it raw.”
Martin has a creative attitude toward his craft.
“If a poem is a feeling, then a short story should be a scene,” he said. “And a novel should be a whole movie.”
Whatever activities Martin pursues, he always returns to writing.
“I tried very hard to be good at [sports],” he admitted, but those odds always seemed to be against him. Besides, the school is only a decade old: many of its teams are fledglings, and there is no newspaper or literary magazine. I asked him if he has considered starting one.
“Maybe for senior project,” he said.
Martin doesn’t mind all this – he plans to build a life for himself just writing books. He hopes to get a jump start on this path in a couple of years by attending a small liberal arts school – out-of-state would be ideal – but he won’t be surprised if financial conditions keep him in Connecticut.
In any case, wherever he winds up, I am convinced of his imminent success.
The world might just have another Charles Bukowski on its hands in the very near future.