Here is a collection of poetry that one must read, reread and on and on. Its memories captured are both of a personal past and a mythic one in which we are daughters hurt, mothers hurting, Cain and Abel, young and old. With its striking metaphors--"The Big roar" of life's waves, or its turns of phrase, "laughing, for dear life," or her imagining herself into dark areas and possible death, Merrin comes out on the other side where her "Cup" runneth over! Katherine H. Burkman
5,0 su 5 stelleA fine poet's most accomplished collection
24 gennaio 2015 - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
In Jeredith Merrin’s singular 9/11 poem, “Stories,” she explores the various “ways we tip the scales to keep the balance” through the reaction of fellow artists at the MacDowell Colony in the days directly following the attack:
At dark, the large group gathered in my cabin, sipping brandy from unmatched coffee cups. After a while, we began to sing: songs from different decades, our various childhoods --Broadway show tunes, Beach Boys, all-girl groups-- loudly, foolishly laughing, for dear life.
This poem alone is reason enough to buy Cup, Merrin’s third and most accomplished collection. The book brims with treasures. As in her earlier books, Shift and Bat Ode, Merrin brings her intellectual and emotional generosity and her wit to bear on an unpredictable range of topics. Here often she turns her attention to the business of aging in contemporary Western society. In “New Year,” Merrin offers up a song of praise:
...to the man or woman who stays open to the river of each day. Praise to her or him who keeps, past sixty and in all weathers, an open heart.
The poems in Cup are clearly the result of the poet’s own unflinching openness, whether it be towards the hand-me-down humiliations parents inflict upon their children in “Surfing the Pororoca,” and the poet’s own shortcomings in “A Woman under the Influence” and “The Resistant Reader in the Age of Memoir,” or the “automatic/ unconvincing noises/about what may be gained” through the undeniable losses of senescence in “Old Movies.”
Images of physical balance recur throughout the book, from the surfers who ride a churning twelve-foot Brazilian tidal bore in the book’s remarkable opening poem, to the “burdened camels” in “Lands You’ll Never See,” creatures “...so balanced over the sand/ their two-toed hooves leave no prints where they pass.” So, too, does the theme of maintaining one’s existential equilibrium in the midsts of devastating change.
Cup is divided into five sections. The second and most personal of these is a sequence of poems about the poet’s adult daughter’s cancer. Here with characteristic passion and restraint, Merrin confronts the most calamitous event in a parent’s life: “...that wild, unmitigated/ sense of something wrong--which is how this feels:// to hear in your child’s voice a terrible,/ gentled acceptance of what must be borne.”
While Merrin’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live on the pages as uniquely themselves, the poet never loses sight of the universality and timelessness of their experience. She finds commonality with the unexpected figure of a legendary Sumerian mother who expressed her anguish more than four thousand years ago:
Ninsun, mother of the hero beseeches the sun-god that Gilgamesh might go unharmed on his journey to murder the monster-- that he be watched over by the stars.
Despite the extremity of her distress. Merrin has no use for sentimentally. She writes: ...As it turns
out Shamash is only one of several gods in this story: all take bribes and quarrel. Who, anymore, in need calls out to them?
Her ancient wish and my wish are the same.
A different sort of love poem, one which will doubtlessly be widely anthologized, is “Desert Sunset Pavane.” The verse ends with the heartbreakingly tender and beautiful image of the poet and her beloved:
Like children learning ballroom dancing --careful of their posture, remembering to smile, proceeding with light gravity-- we step into old age.
It is precisely this seemingly oxymoronic quality of “light gravity” that makes so many poems in this volume unmistakably, unforgettably the work of Jeredith Merrin. Don’t miss it.
In a telling little poem about Beethoven's Sixth, Jeredith Merrin evokes a musical masterpiece with a single color — "Yellow / But nothing sour” — and the presence of child abuse with its absence —“A world without / A beating to walk into." This is artistry that refuses to point to itself, that keeps vanishing behind the content it orchestrates. But the artistry is always there, in an unfailing ear for natural speech (see The Visit), in a selective use of partial rhyme (see the moving homage to John Clare), in a perfect control of extended tropes (see the delectably playful Palm Wrong Song) and in occasional eruptions of declarative force: "There is no other life. / It costs us dearly."
This is a book that accepts the poet's historic challenge, to capture in the smallest possible space the largest possible sense of human existence. That challenge is all the tougher today, now the heady excitement of modernism is history, and the formal certainties that preceded it are pre-history, and we are left with an infinite smorgasbord of aesthetic possibilities in which every choice evokes a pang of familiarity.
Jeredith Merrin escapes the dilemma by discarding the slightest hint of poetic pretension, while at the same time deftly exercising her craft. What wins through is a candid and compassionate record of everyday experience, layered by time and enriched by wisdom. This is a writer who refuses to avoid the pain of existence, but also refuses to roll in it. Aging is a theme that perfectly suits her mode, no better than in the lovely Desert Sunset Pavane: "Like children learning ballroom dancing / — careful of their posture, / remembering to smile, / proceeding with light gravity — / we step into old age."
What keeps this work close to the edge of suffering, but not mired in it, is a light blush of humor — neither raucous nor cynical, but rather a gentle wryness that comes from bravely seeing what is. There's a wonderfully evocative account of a canceled trip to Brazil (Lands You’ll Never See): a poignant and funny emblem of all our unlivable dreams.
The cup of the title is apt both in its ordinariness and its archetypal power. This book is a small container holding a vast amount of life.
5,0 su 5 stelleJeredith Merrin is a poet of elegance, learning, ...
11 gennaio 2015 - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Jeredith Merrin is a poet of elegance, learning, and imagination who enlists her masterful art in the service of lucidity . Most importantly, she is a writer whose witty, moving, compassionate, and unsentimental poems show us that true wisdom comes from the heart. The poems in CUP entertain and educate, but above all they connect and sustain. You will emerge from this book with clearer eyes and a bigger heart.
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