Today, Top Tweet Tuesday is hosting a review fest for independent poetry reviews. For a while now, Amazon has refused to let me post reviews, insisting that I never bought the book, I don’t have an account, I don’t exist etc etc. It’s frustrating.
Anyway, TTT has nudged me to try a different approach. I have tried posting using my Amazon.fr account, the one I use for buying anti-flea pipettes and ink for the printer. It worked! I think. Still being processed, but this ***** review of Merril D. Smith’s poetry collection River Ghosts might actually appear on the Amzon.fr site soon.
A river of images
Merril Smith has been one of my favourite contemporary poets for a few years now, one of those poets who uses language to paint pictures. Her poems are to be read slowly, admired. They should be absorbed like a painting in a gallery. A quick glance then moving on isn’t enough.
So much of the poetry in this collection is about colour (especially blue), memory and the moving river of the turning world. So much of it has the feel of an inheritance, as if memories have shaped the words and transmitted emotional images of things the poet has never seen. Her tender stories about her mother’s forebears in eastern Europe are like Chagall paintings, mythical, dreamlike interpretations of life that is often hard and unforgiving.
The poem River Ghosts sets the tone of the collection, the gentle winding of a dream-river. Dreams and memories are at the core of each of these brightly-coloured poems, but some get under the skin. The poem Handprints, for example, with its images of light, the red handprint on a wall, an arcane symbol, the ancient light of stars, bouncing back and forth in repetition is more profound than simply beautiful. And my favourite of the many poems inspired by Smith’s late mother, Hearts, where the perennity of the ones we love is like a river, flowing from generation to generation.
These poems are profound but limpid, personal and universal. They are simple poems with many layers, like paint on a canvas, their message clear, lyrical and un-clever. To be treasured.