Finished reading book number 36 for the year – a poetry collection called “Minus One” by Elizabeth Merry. The stark black and white cover of this book is quite in contrast with the varied themes and colors of life the author explores through in it. So don’t be betrayed by the emptiness of the cover and tread into the world of Merry’s poetry.
Most poems deal with the themes of death and loss. I read all of them at least twice, sometimes more, to be able to read between the lines; to understand the despair and the eventual reconciliation to a life without the things one is used to. Perhaps a strict parent; a distant lover or a dear child.
Life and death co-exist in this book, I liked how Merry breathes life into something as inanimate as a laptop, which has perhaps become a more intimate object to people than people themselves. The longer free-form poems were a joy to read. There are a few Haikus in the collection too, and since I am not a big fan of the Haiku style, I was glad there weren’t many.
The one titled ‘My Sorrow’ was one of the most poignant poem in the collection, where the author talks of the fear of growing old, of losing one’s mind and having no other option but to accept that fate. Here are the first few lines from it –
“So now I know and
Must accept my fate
The sear of ice is
Burning in my breast…”
The poem echoes a universal anxiety that comes with age, because no loss is greater than losing your sense of self. While largely on the darker side, ‘Minus One’ is an ode to life and its ironies.
“My peers accept
But what has that
To do with me?”
Merry asks in her last poem, and it’s deliciously ironic. It’s like the poet decided to have the last laugh as they ended the book. Well, mortality is most definitely not the business of any writer, since they will live on in their works. Considering it’s still “National Poetry Month” in America, pick up a copy of “Minus One” if you are looking to discover new voices. It’s a 4/5 from me.
Do check Abstract AF’s Podcast show on Youtube.
Here’s a poetry themed episode from the show –