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Saturday, February 01, 2020

 

Carole Mertz and Her New Poetry Collection: Toward a Peeping Sunrise

I'm excited to introduce you to Carole Mertz who recently published a poetry chapbook titled Toward a Peeping Sunrise. Carole and I exchanged a few emails earlier this month, and I said: "We should interview you for The Muffin." Ang thought it was a great idea, too!

We know we have some poets who read our e-zine and blog, and so here is some inspiration and motivation for you! I'll let Carole take it away...

WOW: Congratulations, Carole, on your recently published poetry chapbook, Toward a Peeping Sunrise! Please tell us about the poetry in your book.

Carole Mertz: First of all, thank you for taking the time to interview me. My chapbook is available at this link.  The poems, all but two, are in free verse. They follow an arc, moving from the idea of waking up to thoughts about eternity. They are mostly narrative poems, with one or two leaning toward abstract poetry. Judy Swann, a contemporary poet and colleague, called them both sensual and spiritual.

WOW: I know some of  our readers write this same type of poetry, and so we are very excited to pick your brain today! The publisher is Prolific Press. How did you find your publisher?

CM: When Glenn Lyvers at Prolific Press contacted me last July, I was shocked. I’d sent various collections to about six publishers in 2019 but had forgotten about one I’d submitted in 2018. Since we had crossed into a new year, I’d simply erased that submission from my mind. The contact from Prolific came as a sweet surprise.

WOW: That's great! Those are always the best kind. Was it difficult bringing the collection to completion?

CM: Not at all. Prolific followed a defined schedule which they adhered to to the letter. Since it was all new to me, I simply followed the steps they required, from initial signing of the contract to furnishing blurbs and photo to acceptance of cover and layout. I’d begun writing poetry ten years ago, so this collection of limited pages was simply the result of selecting and grouping some of my poems.

WOW: What inspires your poetry?

CM: I think nature inspires many of my poems. But I’m mostly encouraged and inspired by the work of other poets I read. This is especially so because I enjoy reviewing and critiquing. I’ve reviewed poetry repeatedly for Mom Egg Review, Eclectica, Copperfield Review, and other sites. This work draws me into the recognition and admiration of different contemporary voices and styles. In particular, I’ve followed closely the work of Carol Smallwood, Diane Lockward, Beate Sigriddaughter, Judy Swann, Judith Skillman, and others. They’ve taught me much, not only about different types of poetry, but also about how to function as a poet.

WOW: We talk about reading in your genre a lot on here, and we also mention to learn from what you read. So it's nice to hear that theory being put into practice successfully. Can you say more about that?

CM: Smallwood, for example, has produced nine collections of poetry within the past eight years. She has shown me how different types of collections are formed. Sigriddaughter, as supporter of women’s poetry, has promoted female writers for years at her wonderful blog, Writing in a Woman’s Voice. I also admire that Diane Lockward, author of The Practicing Poet, not only writes and reads her own poetry, but also publishes others’ via her newly-formed Terrapin Books. These are artists who’ve extended themselves in meaningful ways.

WOW: Let's look at a couple of the poems in your book. Do you have favorite poems? Tell us about them!

CM: There’s something satisfying about being able to record an event from one’s life that was at once both horrendous and beautiful. That’s what I experienced in writing the poem “In Sickness and in Health.” We don’t always know how we’ll grow when we pass through a dark period of testing. On the lighter side, people seem to like my poem, “That this Blue Exists…” I wrote it in response to Wilda Morris’s call for a “Title Poem.”

WOW: What is a “Title Poem?”

CM: It’s made of lines from titles of various books. I used fourteen existent titles and shaped them into a little surreal story.

WOW: How interesting! I'm sure we are all wondering how that worked out. (Readers, all you have to do is go to the link and purchase a copy. I'm lucky enough to have a review copy from Carole!) Have you enjoyed other experiences as a poet?

CM: In 2018, I was asked to serve as advance reader for WNBA’s Poetry Contest. I enjoyed the process of narrowing down the selections and working with the chief judge on the project. And in 2019, I was on the Prize Selection Committee at The Ekphrastic Review. Here we read through the entire year’s archive to select for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. It was detailed labor, but working with Lorette Luzajic and reading the many fine poems was totally rewarding.

WOW: What a great experience! What is your advice for aspiring poets who would like to publish their own poetry book?

CM: Each one must find his own way, of course. But I feel it’s most important to continue your reading of other poets. Identify those who most appeal to you. Maintain your connection with other writers. You can do this, for example, via such lively sites as WOW! Women on Writing. As Sackville-West wrote, “All craftsmen share a knowledge.” Keep records of your own poems, where submitted, where published. Combine groups of poems into a collection centered, if possible, around a theme. Submit them to publishers during their open reading periods and wait for positive responses. It’s a process that often functions with the slowness of a lethargic turtle. But then, turtles usually arrive at their destinations.

WOW: True, and thank you for mentioning us as a resource for new writers. Can you tell us where readers can find you?

CM: Though my website is still under construction, readers can check my Writer Profile at Poets & Writers. http://www.pw.org/directory/writers/carole_mertz

WOW: Thank you, Carole, for your time and knowledge today. Here is a little bit more about Carole, readers, if you're interested:

Carole Mertz, poet, reviewer, and editor, has had works published in over 50 literary journals in the U.S., Canada, and U.K. She is book review editor at Dreamers Creative Writing; reader of prose and poetry for Mom Egg Review, and member of the Prize Selection Committee at The Ekphrastic Review. Carole has won poetry challenges and contributed to various anthologies. Kendra Boileau, Penn State U. Press noted: “Mertz is a master of poetic form, imagery, sonority, and wit.” Carole is a professional musician who began writing twelve years ago. She resides with her husband in Parma, Ohio.


This interview was conducted by WOW! Managing Editor Margo L. Dill. Find out more about Margo on her website here. 


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