She was born on July 10, 1960, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a graduate of Princeton University with BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
In 1988 Martinez was charged with conspiracy for allegedly transporting two Salvadoran women refugees into the US; she was working as a freelance reporter covering religion and the Sanctuary Movement at the time. She was later acquitted of the charges. During the trial, prosecutors used Martinez's poem "Nativity, For Two Salvadoran Women" in an attempt to build a case against her, a decision Martinez has called a "major error."
Martinez has been an editor for the National Catholic Review in Tucson, Arizona, since 1990. She teaches in the annual William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
- International Latino Book Award for best biography (2006): Confessions of a Berlitz-Tape Chicana (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005) 
- Western States Book Award for fiction: Mother Tongue (Ballintine, 1997) 
- Thirteenth Annual Chicano Literary Arts Contest (first prize: poem): "Turning" (Bilingual Press Review, 1989)
- American Book Award (2013)
- Three Times a Woman: Chicana Poetry (includes the poem "Turning"), Bilingual Press/Review (Tempe, AZ), 1989 ISBN 978-0916950910
- MotherTongue, Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue (Tempe, AZ), 1994, translated into Spanish by Ana Maria de la Fuente and published as Lengua madre, Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 1996 ISBN 978-0345416568
- Breathing between the Lines: Poems, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 1997 ISBN 978-0816517985
- The Devil's Workshop, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2002 ISBN 978-0816521975
- Confessions of a Berlitz-Tape Chicana (Chicana and Chicano Visions of the Americas series) ISBN 978-0806137223
- The Block Captain's Daughter (Chicana and Chicano Visions of the Americas series) ISBN 978-0806142913
- "Contemporary Authors Online". Biography in Context. Gale. 2004. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Notable Hispanic American Women. Detroit: Gale. 1993.
- Ndegeocello, Me'Shell (2009). "World Literature Today". The poet as political activist: a conversation with Demetria Martinez. Retrieved December 21, 2015 – via Biography in Context.
- Levin, Jennifer (July 8, 2016). "The personal is political: readings around town". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "New York Times". 2 Are Acquitted In Entry to U.S. By Illegal Aliens. 1998. Retrieved December 21, 2015 – via Biography in Context.
- Rice, Dan (March 23, 2002). "Poem freed 'Sanctuary Movement' writer". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "Demetria Martínez". Lannan Foundation.
- "Chicana and Chicano Visions of the Americas series".
- Telgen, Diane (1993). Notable Hispanic American Women, Volume 1. Cengage Gale. pp. https://books.google.com/books?id=dCWqXOE5lmgC&pg=PA258&lpg=PA258&dq=%22chicano+literary+arts+contest%22&source=bl&ots=EQbXtkBYRB&sig=fbQjXR-8G1LEuLiyjVoe2e9be7A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjc7M7h7uDdAhVk6YMKHQ_lBdEQ6AEwBnoECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22chicano%20literary%20arts%20contest%22&f=false. ISBN 9780810375789.
- "Demetria Martinez, Author, Activist and Creativity Coach". www.demetriamartinez.com. Retrieved 24 November 2018.