10 December 2011
The dreadlocks of polar bears; the atomized droplets of an underground waterfall; oranges as an offering to the dead; a purple hippopotamus wading pool in a strip club; hoar frost and aurora borealis and bail bondsmen and road kill: Joanne Merriam‘s inaugural collection of poetry catalogues morsels of experience. The Glaze from Breaking overflows with lovely, vivid poems about the aftermath of a breakup, and the redemptive power of travel, nature and love. Her language charged with verbal energy, Merriam has crafted a moving portrait of a woman who is saved by her close observation of the everyday wonders of the world.
The Glaze from Breaking was originally published by the now-defunct UK small press Stride Books in 2005. December 2011.
Poems from the book available online:
These links all open in a new window.
- “Auto Biographies.” Winner of the Goodreads Poetry Contest, July 2012.
- “Bodies Make Poor Lenses.” Astropoetica, Volume 6.2, Spring 2008. ISSN 1559-6052.
- “Cunt” and “Guest Room” (with other poems not in this collection). Concelebratory Shoehorn Review, 1 February 2009.
- “Footprints Drying on the Stairs.” New Hampshire Poet Showcase, From NH Poet Laureate, Pat Fargnoli.
- “Glorybower,” “The Ghost Road” and “Long Weekend.” Concelebratory Shoehorn Review, September 1, 2007.
- “Re Member Ies.” flashquake: an online journal of flash literature, Fall 2005.
Reviews of the 2005 edition:
The poetry is ripe with sensuality, whether it is kissing or watching birds flutter or polar bears fight.
— Jacqueline Karp, New Hope International Review Online, September 2005.
She reminded me a lot of the early work of Boris Pasternak where the poet does not so much observe the natural world as fuse with it breaking down the boundaries between speaker and landscape… She also does clever things with sound… [and] has the odd image that manages to be both unusual and just right.
— Belinda Cooke, “Belinda Cooke reviews six new volumes from Stride,” Shearsman 63/4, April 2005.
…a secondary level of suggestiveness on which the overall themes of this collection become clear. This is characteristic of the way in which the best of the poems and sequences in The Glaze from Breaking succeed: the implications of particular images shift and are clarified in time. The first sentence in the book tells us that ‘Theories of self can be demolished’, and the poems proceed to show subjective language rewriting itself, as where the word ‘breaking’ in the book’s title comes to inhabit many of its different senses at once…
— Matthew Sperling, “Matthew Sperling reviews three new collections from Stride,” Tower Poetry, June 2005.
Her language is fabulous… I think that folks who don’t need a line-break-fix and who are comfortable with their decentered selves (the last of which I don’t mean negatively and the former of which I mean only a little) will be thrilled by the poetry here.
— Mary Alexandra Agner, online review, May 13, 2005.
Merriam, a Canadian poet now living in the United States, published her book through a British publisher, and its distribution in North America is limited to overseas orders. But readers of contemporary poetry – especially those intrigued by the possibilities of the prose-poem form – will find this small yet deeply felt collection well worth seeking out for its elegant exploration of love and loss, recovery and redemption, eroticism and the echoes of the heart.
— Kate Washington, “Beautifully Formed: A Review of Joanne Merriam’s The Glaze From Breaking,” chicklit, March 30, 2005.
Merriam’s entire collection uses silence to give her work an eerie feel of helplessness. Silence is a kidnapper of communication, and Merriam suffocates us in the inability to express, as though ‘[m]outh sealed in nectar, silence lies dormant on my tongue.’… Her images are sharp and vivid…
Joanne Merriam saves herself by travelling, remembering, and by long lines and prose poems well-suited to Stride’s new square format books.
— Jane Routh, “Fireside Reading,” Stride Magazine, January 2005.
Memory, tenderness, and its flip side ‘estrangement’ – these are key themes in Joanne Merriam’s exquisite poems. With an accomplished lyric ear and eye, Merriam’s images soar through her verses and prose poems like plants flinging their spores. The city is always in the frame yet, out of the window, lies the natural world; a beautifully rendered amphitheatre in which the poet explores personal relationships and the relation in which we stand to the world. Merriam’s emotional honesty, combined with her convincing, startling images, will transport you.
— Andy Brown (back cover blurb)