Karla Linn Merrifield
I can't help it, won't help it: I hear voices. It's been happening over the past several years as I have traipsed up the backwaters & into the wilder regions of the North American continent. As I traveled, I left behind Ruskin's pathetic fallacy that had taught me to avoid imbuing the natural world with human feeling. I left behind the work of many modern poets who have used the pathetic fallacy to ironically emphasize the loss of communion between the individual & the natural world. But I stuffed into my backpack the belief that that communion could be regained & that the natural world could imbue me with its feelings. And it did.
The process for the resulting poems I wrote of such close encounters was twofold. Being a creature of Western culture & having been a student of the scientific method, I lugged my guidebooks with me & took as my departure point the identification, the naming of the beings I met in field & stream. I nailed down the Linnaean nomenclature for each beast - and then I stared (as poet William Heyen first instructed me to do).
I find that if I stare long enough, listen well enough along the unbeaten paths, the animals will speak, pleading their cause, informing the human condition. With this slim volume of poems I invite readers to hear what the carp, cod, halibut & others of their kingdom have to say. I invite my readers to commune, to be in the midst.
- Karla Linn Merrifield
A native of West Virginia, Karla Linn Merrifield holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from SUNY College at Brockport, (Brockport, NY), where she studied under American poet William Heyen and writer Judy Kitchen. Since writing and publishing her first poem at age 11, she has had poetry published in national publications such as Earth's Daughters, Negative Capability, Blueline, Paper Street Press, Boatman's Quarterly Review, and Mediphors, as well as in the 1998 anthology, Prairie Hearts: Women Write on the Midwest; the 1999 anthology, To Honor Our Teachers, and the forthcoming Sacred Stones and Lessons From Above. She is a retired marketing specialist who now teaches writing part-time at SUNY Brockport. Although she makes her home in Kent, NY, on the south shore of Lake Ontario, she travels extensively with her husband throughout North America during the remaining seven months of the year.
From the book:
to Tess Gallagher
My Pacific intertidal life guide clearly
identifies today's find as a common acorn
barnacle, specifically Balanus glandula,
staking also its claim to fame: a naked
tenaciousness, possessing as it does one
of the strongest known natural adhesives.
But I passed over their chitinous craters filled
with moist, gray, blank eyes of primitive
meat & attendant barbed legs yet feeding,
to study ones long gone to crows & gulls,
shells of former simple selves holding,
holding on, outlasting, yes, even death.
I had to be my own life guide, perceive
such creatures as the antithesis of morning
mists over the strait straying off so easily
into thinnest of air at the slightest touch
of light. I came to know them quite clearly
otherwise, those old soul barnacles, those old lovers.
Midst is a 32 page hand-sewn chapbook.
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