Merril Smith – Guest Feature

Patricia’s Pen is delighted to welcome poet, Merril Smith, all the way from New Jersey. I got to know Merril via Black Bough Poetry Top Tweet Tuesday on Twitter. Without further ado, it’s over to Merril to chat about her writing.

My Writing

Merril Smith

Thank you very much, Patricia, for inviting me to Patricia’s Pen! I appreciate this wonderful opportunity to discuss writing and my work.

I have considered myself to be a writer for many years, but a poet for only a few. After the publication of my first book, Breaking the Bonds (NYU Press), I wrote/edited several non-fiction books–monographs, edited volumes, and reference work on history, gender, and sexuality published. However, writing and editing these books did not fulfil me the way writing poetry does. I think I needed a creative outlet, but it needed to be at the right time. It’s hard to explain, but I began to write poetry in a type of stream-of-consciousness outpouring on my blog, Yesterday and Today, like the muse just took over and decided now. Gradually, I began responding to online poetry prompts and working on learning how to craft poetry. I believe my first poem was published in 2018.

I compiled my full-length collection, River Ghosts (Nightingale & Sparrow Press) during the summer of the COVID lockdown. It was a scary, bleak time. One week in April of that year, one of our cats died suddenly on a day that began with storms and tornado warnings and ended with clear, blue sky and spring flowers. Then at the end of that week, my mother died. Because of the lockdown, we could not be with her. The deaths of Mickey, my mom, COVID, despair, love, and the beauty of April will always be linked in my mind. In that spring and summer, I walked and saw beauty all around me, even while people were dying. I began my own sort of mourning ritual during my morning walks, where I tossed a stone into the river.

BUY – Amazon

BUY – Nightingale & Sparrow Press

Some of the poems in River Ghosts are about death or witnessing horrible events, but there are also poems of love, family, and nature’s beauty. The collection combines poems written earlier (some published) with some written for the volume. That said, I think my style has changed and improved since the publication of River Ghosts. I believe this is because I’ve concentrated on writing more imagist poetry. So—a shoutout to Matthew MC Smith, his Black Bough Poetry and @TopTweetTuesday, and also for the supportive online poetry community!

There are geniuses in all areas, but for most people, like me, writing poetry is a combination of creative spark, a way of seeing the world, and learned skills. I think River Ghosts works, but I really didn’t know anything about putting a collection together then–almost three years ago. This month marks the one-year anniversary of its publication. I still walk by the river, I still think of my mom (and dad), but I know they would both be proud of me and this book. My older child created the cover art, so it’s a book that carries family and memory through its pages. The new collection I’m working on will have some of those themes, but I think it will be very different.

About Merril Smith

Merril D. Smith lives in southern New Jersey near the Delaware River. Her poetry has been published in journals including Black Bough Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, Acropolis, Humana Obscura, and anthologies, such as the recent Our Own Coordinates: Poems about Dementia (Sidhe Press). Her full-length poetry collection, River Ghosts, was published by Nightingale & Sparrow Press.     




BUY – Amazon

BUY – Nightingale & Sparrow Press

14 thoughts on “Merril Smith – Guest Feature

  1. derrickjknight April 11, 2023 / 2:41 pm

    Good to read this. I had not realised how comparatively recently Merril had come to poetry – she is such a natural

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie A Bailey April 12, 2023 / 3:05 pm

    Thank you for featuring Merril! I’m thrilled to learn she’s working on another poetry collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia M Osborne April 12, 2023 / 3:06 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Marie. I’m sure Merril will revisit Patricia’s Pen when her new collection is released.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Resa April 14, 2023 / 2:58 am

    I’ve had the privilege of reading this wonderful book of poetry!
    Thank you for this post, Patricia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia M Osborne April 14, 2023 / 10:50 am

      That’s brilliant, Resa. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m sure Merril will be delighted to hear that you’ve read her wonderful book of poetry.

      Liked by 1 person

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