Donna Marie Merritt's What's Wrong With Ordinary? Poems to Celebrate Life
Donna Marie Merritt's newest poetry collection, What's Wrong With Ordinary? Poems to Celebrate Life (copyright 2012 Avalon Press Ltd), at first glance, could be misconstrued as an enjoyable romp through Erma Bombeck-inspired Suessian verse. However, there is great joy in her work, and an honest wit (yes, there is such a thing). Merritt reminds me that the best poetry is simply written in the same vein as one of America's greatest poets, Ogden Nash, without the embellishments of academia or the arrogance of abstraction.
What's Wrong With Ordinary?, picks up where her previous poetry collections, Cancer, A Caregiver's View (copyright 2011, Avalon Press Ltd), and Job Loss, A Journey into Poetry (copyright 2010 Avalon Press Ltd), both from the “Tough Times” series, left off. Merritt, a middle-school teacher, mother, and wife, balances personal pride against the frustration her children engender as they are grow up and leave the nest (“all grown up,” and “Parenthood,”); and Merritt shares many intimate moments of what it's like to live with/love a spouse who is battling cancer. Merritt's best poems (“Return,” “After Treatment,” and, “The Waiting Game,”) speak to an almost unfathomable level of devotion (married couples will understand this), as she follows her husband's journey back to health while he finishes chemo treatments, with a combination of humor and eagerness, as in the poem, “back”:
The other subject covered in What's Wrong With Ordinary?, is one that many women still DON'T like to talk about: Menopause. Women, at least in America, are supposed to remain forever young, as the media would have us believe, and, Merritt shatters those preconceptions with her straightforward good humor. There are poems about hot flashes (“Natural Disaster”); the inevitable hormonal weight gain (“Wait, Weight!”); and an ode to fluctuating hormones and loss of memory, (“Midlife”):
Test reveals plunging estrogen
Brain no longer claims retention
Veins in legs start to show
Complexion spots replace the glow
Emotions roll and I’m a grump
Stomach growls but is too plump
Middle age is supposedly
A time of near serenity
I’m told I’ll come “into my own”
Now that my kids are almost grown
Perhaps what all that really means
Is body, mind burst at the seams
When I read the first few pages of What's Wrong With Ordinary?, I wasn't too enthused – except for sonnets, I'm not a fan of rhyming poetry. Most of what tries to pass for poetry written in tetrameter verse is often pergored by poets like myself who favor the Romantic/Surrealist/Imagist/Beat/Post-Beat/Post-Modern eras, the latter ones (except for New Formalists), of which took the tools of rhyme and meter and stuck them in the proverbial attic. But, frankly, as the daughter of a great man who fought against cancer, and lost, I'm was happy to come across this story of success that Merritt so openly shared with her readers. Books like What's Wrong With Ordinary?, teach us a valuable lesson: poetry can inspire, make us laugh, and help us heal.
What's Wrong With Ordinary? Poems to Celebrate Life, Donna Marie Merritt, copyright 2012 Avalon Press Ltd, http://avalonpress.co.uk/index.html, ISBN 978-0-9563303-4-5, 72 pages, $13.95
Marie C Lecrivain
Â Â Marie C Lecrivain is the executive editor and publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, a jewelry designer, and a writer in residence at her apartment.
Â Â Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including: Edgar Allen Poetry Journal, The Los Angeles Review, Nonbinary Review, Gargoyle, Spillway, States of the Union, Orbis, A New Ulster, and others.
Â Â Marie's newest poetry chapbook, Fourth Planet From the Sun, will be published in 2018 by Rum Razor Press. She's an associate fiction/essay editor for The Good Works Review, and the editor of several anthologies including Octavia's Brood: Words and Art inspired by O.E. Butler (Â© 2014 Sybaritic Press), and Rubicon: Words and Art Inspired by Oscar Wilde's "De Profundis" (Â© 2015 Sybaritic Press).
Â Â Marie's avocations include photography; meditation; Libers CCXX and XV; marmosets; Christopher Eccleston, H.P. Lovecraft, and Sean Bean (depending on what day of the week it is); her co-owned cat Puff; expensive handbags; the number seven, and sensual tributes upon her neck from male artists-except male poets, who only write about it.
Â Â "Writing is like having sex with a beautiful freak; adventurous and uncomfortable to the extreme." - m. lecrivain 2004