Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author Elizabeth Merry and a review

Today, I am delighted to introduce you to author and poet, Elizabeth Merry. I came across Elizabeth’s poetry and writing quite recently and was bowled over by her powerful words and messages.

Welcome Elizabeth

First, I would like to send a million thanks to Robbie Cheadle for this opportunity; it is much appreciated.

My favourite poem from my own collection is The Red Petticoat, which I wrote for my mother. When I was very young, anyone with relations in America was always on the lookout for parcels. Besides the red petticoat I remember winter coats for my sister and myself. Mine was grey and red check and hers was chocolate brown with pompoms – I was so jealous of those pompoms! Well, here is the poem:

THE RED PETTICOAT

I remember the rustle

Of the red, exotic petticoat

The pick of a parcel

From America

Delight crackled in her hair

Exploded in a sudden flush

On her alabaster skin

The lighthouse sweep and beam

Of her glad eyes

Lit us all, haloed the room

Where we stood in a row

To admire

Long left that room, that house

The woman has gathered her years

Carefully, tucked them primly away

Scented and folded neatly

Facing the rest

With a lifted chin

A grin and a new hat

The glow of the red petticoat

About her still.

I don’t favour any particular genre, although when I read through the collection it seems that most of them are about my own life – I’m sure that says something about me – not too complimentary! However, I do have a love for writing haikus, especially when I’m out walking along the river, counting syllables under my breath! And as opposed to the poems, the haikus are generally about nature, the river itself, and all the trees and plants along its banks. I’m lucky to have many lovely walks right beside where I live.

Sometimes it takes a long time to write a poem; it arrives in separate words and phrases on different days, weeks, months even. Other times it appears almost complete and all at once; you hardly have to work on it, just write it down.

For my own reading pleasure I appreciate poems that I can understand. At school (a long time ago) we were taught how to interpret poems; the teachers explaining what the poet meant, and what he (it was always a “he” in those days) was referring to – it could be something from Greek or Roman mythology. Just because a poem is easy to understand doesn’t mean it isn’t clever or wonderful. My favourite poem is one of Séamus Heaney’s which illustrates exactly what I mean. Here it is:

DIGGING

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground;

My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds

Bends low, comes up twenty years away

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills

Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked,

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.

Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner’s bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, going down and down

For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.

Isn’t that sublime? Although some of Heaney’s poems are extremely long and convoluted and steeped in the classics of Irish and European tradition, the poems in this, his first, collection, are accessible to anyone, and are filled with a sort of magic. Death of a Naturalist was published in 1966. Heaney received the Nobel Prize in 1995. Again I would like to thank Robbie for this opportunity I have enjoyed the experience very much.

Minus One: With Haikus and Other Poems: The Story of a Life by Elizabeth Merry

What Amazon says

This collection sums up the life of the poet. It begins with memories of her parents, in The Red Petticoat: “The lighthouse sweep and beam/Of her glad eyes/Lit us all, haloed the room/Where we stood in a row/To admire.” And in Minus One: “Your absence grips my throat/Chokes my breath . . . How much of you is me/Stretching to close the circle?” Other poems cover growing up and speak of friends and lovers, moving forward to parenthood and beyond, to old age in Bones: “Don’t look too close/Disintegration has begun/And death will lend it speed/Until my bones are bare and/Waiting for the second coming . . . ” And to death in Mortality: “Tombstones/Pale and cold/Line up, waiting/For my name . . . ” Throughout the collection there are sections of Haikus, many with accompanying photographs: “Child of my child, I/scoop you up and hug you, breathe/you in and keep you.” References to the sea and the harbour move through this collection, lending a special atmosphere. These poems are filled with the many emotions of our lives and will appeal to all of us.

My review

This is a beautiful collection of poetry about the life of the poet including both great moments and sad moments. The poetry comprises of freestyle poems and some lovely and moving haikus which are accompanied by beautiful photographs.

I have not as yet lost anyone very close to me so the first poem Minus One was very compelling for me. I could imagine the pain of loss in these words:
“My magic circle broken
Minus one
The first one
To close his eyes”
The rest of this poem brought tears to my eyes.

The small dark man was quite a frightening poem. A tale of a man who has become bitter and angry due to life burdens. He has lost his way and turned to alcohol for solace. Such a disappointment for his children who remember better days. A few compelling lines:
“We waited – wary
His face shut tight against us
Like a fist”

There is a sense of loss but joy in memory in the poem In a Yellow Dress:
“If I could put you
In a frame
And freeze forever
Those wanton curls”

My favourite haiku in this collection reminds me of my own sons when they were little … and even now that they are big lads. There is nothing more emotional than your child or, I imagine, you grandchild:
“Child of my child, I
scoop you up and hug you, breathe
you in and keep you”

Purchase Minus One: With Haikus and Other Poems: The Story of a Life by Elizabeth Merry

Amazon US

Elizabeth Merry Amazon Page

New Children’s books by Elizabeth Merry

Elizabeth has just released two new books for middle school children.

Ghosts in Trouble

GHOSTS IN TROUBLE Kindle Edition
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0922ZXNW9

Blurb

Lizzie blamed Cormac. Stealing the silver tea-set was all his idea, and now they can’t get into heaven until it’s returned to Old Whelan. They need help, but who can they turn to?

“I’ve just thought, Cormac. That awful cousin of yours, Imelda. The house is hers now. Hers and poor Dermot’s and those noisy twins, David and Dora.”

Might it be possible for them to make friends with the twins?

“Lizzie stopped short as the front door was suddenly thrown open and in rushed the cold, night air, followed by two large children who tripped over the boxes in the hall and fell down laughing.”

Things get even more complicated when the villain, John the Pots, gets involved. He wants the tea-set for himself; he could sell it for a lot of money.

“Someone moved in the dark. Someone who peered and moved, his eyes raking the house and garden . . . “

All seems lost until Cormac and Lizzie meet Jamesy, an old ghost who knows a lot, and has an idea, but will it work . . .

Felix finds out

FELIX FINDS OUT Kindle Edition
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B091V44YZJ

Blurb

Hennessy is the school caretaker. He is also a devious thief and a bully. Felix is ten years old, a quiet boy, and small for his age. How is he to find out what Hennessy is up to? ‘Felix wondered where Hennessy was. As he thought of the tall figure in the heavy anorak, his mouth went suddenly dry, his heart leaping and banging, his whole face squeezed up with frowns.’But when a new girl arrives at the school, Felix watches her closely; this could change everything. She might suit as an accomplice.'”Hello, I’m Samantha. Is your name really Felix? That’s a good name, I think.”‘Can Felix and his new friend find out what Hennessy is up to, and save Uncle Eddie’s job? Samantha has a plan!


47 Comments on “Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author Elizabeth Merry and a review”

  1. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    Today, I am featuring poet and author, Elizabeth Merry, as my Treasuring Poetry guest. Elizabeth has shared her favourite poems and thoughts about poetry and I have shared my review of her lovely poetry book, Minus One. Thank you Kaye Lynne Booth for hosting us today.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks for introducing us to Elizabeth and her poetry, Robbie. I enjoyed learning the background behind The Red Petticoat.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have Minus One and am looking forward to reading it! What a treat to hear (and see!) Elizabeth read “The Red Petticoat.” It’s a wonderful poem. And I can appreciate why she chose Séamus Heaney’s “Digging” as her favorite poem; I’d read it before, and it had a similar effect on me.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you for introducing a great poetess and author, Robbie! I am following Elisabeth Merry since some times, and her poems are fantastic. I will put “Minus One” on my TBR, and the children book advice our parents here. Have all a beautiful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 3 people

    • My pleasure, Michael. I am very pleased I met Elizabeth through Sally Cronin’s blog. I also think her poems are fantastic. Happy Saturday, Michael.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Me too, Robbie! Thank you very much for remembering too. Sally is a gem. Without her i would not know anything about new books, poetry, and whats going on. Have also a lovely Saturday, Robbie! Please stay save, because here our government is spreading a fear of the virus similar to a Hollywood blockbuster. Michael

        Liked by 3 people

        • Hi Michael, our government and my fellow countrymen have decided not to worry unduly about the virus. We must wear masks and use sanitizer but other than that it is business as usual. I hope you also stay safe. The virus seems quite serious in certain places, including India and Brazil.

          Liked by 2 people

        • A good attitude, because we can’t do much ,besides protecting ourselves, Robbie! Here they are slowly going crazy. It’s bad with India and Brazil. But possibly these are again different virus mutations. xx

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that poem–Red Petticoat. I love older people who still dress up, want to look good. I used to have a dance studio. My oldest student was over 90 and she always came to her lessons dressed beautifully. So wonderful.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you, Robbie, for introducing me to this woman of words, Her works are thought-provoking and stir the emotions as does life itself.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. marianbeaman says:

    I enjoyed hearing Elizabeth reading her poem “Red Petticoat,” As an American, I am fascinated that other families would look forward to parcels from the States. So sweet!
    And she has the perfect name for a poet, especially appropriate for writing haikus, my favorite form.

    Thanks, Robbie! I will tweet this.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Pink Roses says:

    Robbie, I am thrilled and grateful for this post. You are very kind. It is much appreciated. And thanks to all of you who left such positive comments. I find them very encouraging. Especially as it’s my birthday today! Don’t ask; I’ve been here for a long time!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. balroop2013 says:

    Nice to see Elizabeth here. I’ve read and enjoyed Minus One – lovely poetry about life. Wishing her great success. Thank you for sharing your review Robbie and picking up some wonderful verses from her book. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Arthur Rosch says:

    I don’t think I’ll forget the line about the “lighthouse sweep of her eyes” (sic). See, I’ve forgotten it already. Never mind. I love Elizabeth’s poetry. And the Heany? Fogget about it!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Dan Antion says:

    I have always loved and appreciated poetry. Poets work so hard to make every word count. I try to figure out the meaning but I think it can vary based on the reader. Poetry speaks to us on a different level. This is a wonderful post.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Toni Pike says:

    I so enjoyed this introduction to Elizabeth’s poetry – what a lovely discovery. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

  13. A lovely post Robbie and Elizabeth and thanks Kaye Lynne for hosting.. I enjoyed the collection Minus One and I am looking forward to adding Elizabeth’s children’s books to the Reading Room.. thanks ladies…xx

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I loved digging – it was so apt and quite delightful. I shared the article because I think it’s great what an interesting and versatile writer. My best wishes to Elizabeth Merry.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. memadtwo says:

    I like how she takes ordinary moments and fills them with emotion. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  16. So wonderful to see Elizabeth here. I love her writing in general and enjoyed her collection Minus One. Great review, Robbie. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynee.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. […] Read, hosted by Kaye Lynne Booth and myself. You can read the latest Treasuring Poetry post here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/04/17/treasuring-poetry-meet-poet-and-author-elizabeth-merry-and-a-… Blurb A collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the […]

    Liked by 1 person


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