Martha Serpas



Martha Serpas has written four volumes of poetry, including The Dirty Side of the Storm and Double Effect. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, and Southern Review. Active in efforts to restore Louisiana’s wetlands, she co-produced Veins in the Gulf, a documentary about coastal erosion. Her beach shack muse, A Rough Draft, has been involuntarily removed from Grand Isle. She teaches at the University of Houston. 

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The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets
with Gina Ferrara, David Havird, Rodger Kamenetz, Julie Kane, Dorie LaRue, Cleopatra Mathis, Patrice Melnick, Mona Lisa Saloy, and Martha Serpas


Double Effect: Poems 

Martha Serpas’s Double Effect reimagines a principle first outlined by St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica, which considers whether an action is morally permissible if it causes harm while bringing about a good result. In resonant verse pointed by Cajun language, these poems measure the good that can come from destructive situations: maternal deprivation, spiritual poverty, mania, ecological devastation. Serpas shows that compromised marshes and the Gulf of Mexico offer surprising sustenance and clarity. Time is marked by feast days, hurricanes, celebrations, accidents, and rescues along southern Louisiana’s eroding coasts. Double Effect ultimately finds joy in survival, in love, and in spiritual fulfillment.


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