NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
JOANNE MERRIAM: THE GLAZE FROM BREAKING
Stride
4b Tremayne Close
Devoran
Cornwall
TR3 6QE
UK ISBN 1 905024 00 2
7.50

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JOANNE MERRIAM: THE GLAZE FROM BREAKING

This collection of prose poems and poems is divided into three sections, EXPLOSION OF WINGS, CALENDAR OF DREAMS and FEATHERS INTO CLOTH. Within these there are single poems and sequences, such as TIGHTEN TO BRUISE, which starts the collection and CALENDAR OF DREAMS, which offers a dream from each month of the year.

Acknowledgements are for the most part to prestigious Canadian publications such as The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, Grain, to name a few, as well as references to Nova Scotia and the Arctic, so I am supposing the author is Canadian, although there is no bio note to help the reader here. She has also had her work published in the UK (Reactions, Stand, Orbis, for example).

Like the title of the collection itself, many of the pieces start in media res and end similarly; many are sparse on punctuation; this deliberate choice of incompleteness lends mystery to the snippets. Some read like musings, other like diary entries. You find yourself thinking about the ginger cats and the blackbirds among the barnacles long after you have finished reading, even if you are not sure why they are there or whether you have happened upon something you weren't perhaps meant to read. ... what is particularly interesting is how, to twist Joanne Merriam's words around a little, the ordinary becomes tantalising.

The poetry is ripe with sensuality, whether it is kissing or watching birds flutter or polar bears fight. This is a first collection. Jeanne Merriam is certainly off to a very assured start.

I particularly liked JANUARY in the CALENDAR OF DREAMS:

look at the sun through welding glass while the ancient bird eats its own egg. eventually we're all in darkness relieved only by the gold outline the bird leaves behind.
and the polar bears in EVERY DAY 600 MILES FURTHER FROM HOME,
ritualized grappling, lemon yellow against the blue snow, black mouths, breathing miniature clouds. Paws awkward, movements full of grace and momentum, truncated parabolas...
An apt description for the poet's whole work.

reviewer: Jacqueline Karp.