Mary Meriam is the founder of Lavender Review, an e-zine of lesbian poetry and art, and co-founder of Headmistress Press, which publishes lesbian poetry books. Her first full-length poetry collection, Conjuring My Leafy Muse, was nominated for the 2015 Poets' Prize.
Lady Of The Moon
In this jewel of a volume, a great love is reanimated. Imagist Amy Lowell’s love poems to actress Ada Russell, pioneering lesbian-feminist scholar Lillian Faderman’s landmark essay on Lowell and Russell, and contemporary poet Mary Meriam’s heartfelt sonnet sequence speaking to Russell in Lowell’s voice, combine to create a remarkable erotic and poetic event. Like Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Lowell and Russell had a great creative partnership that made an indelible mark on literary and lesbian history. Lowell called her “tense and urgent love” for Russell an “amethyst garden;” today’s readers will find gems of all colors in Lady of the Moon.
—Lisa L. Moore, author of Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes (Lambda Literary Award, 2012), and Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
Lavender Review: Poems From The First Five Years
I'm not sure what I expected when I ordered this anthology from Lavender Review, but I was surprised by how personal and revealing the works were. It turns out the publisher, Headmistress Press, is named ironically. There are many delicious poems from a range of writers. It is charming and the curatorial prowess of editor, Mary Meriam, is stunning. If you are looking for porn, buy something else. If you want to know the thoughts and emotions of a sample lesbian community, this is the volume for you. This is not kink, it's beauty. There are many flavors in this collection but I was struck by them all. These tastes are for us. I highly recommend this book which has been artfully and tastefully presented.
- Amazon reviewer
The Lillian Trilogy
“A poet can survive anything but a misprint,” wrote Oscar Wilde, flippantly intimating that poets are made half-mad by a world of trouble. One rootless poet lost in trouble, Mary Meriam, found an anchor in The Lillian Trilogy, which combines in one volume her three recently published poetry collections: Word Hot, Conjuring My Leafy Muse, and Girlie Calendar. The poems use a wide variety of poetic forms to capture and command relentless buckets of loss and heartache, revealing the untold horrors of her life and turning them around in a magnificent blossoming of longing, lust, sadness, and wit.
This is very strong, fearless stuff, beautiful.
—Rhina P. Espaillat
Mary Meriam is a rare and original poet. This is a dazzling book, a fusion of anguish and wit and song, written in clear and compelling language. I love the wildness, the inventiveness, the always surprising but accurate metaphors. She writes of real things, real people, always musically. She uses Mother Goose rhythms and rhymes or echoes of Sapphic meters or settings as grim as any of the Grimm Brothers’ tales, to tell searing truths that move, frighten, and delight one with the skill of their telling.
Mary Meriam is a frightening poet, a frighteningly good poet. The intensity of her writing will frighten you, but also her technical skill. She can put a chill into the most common rhyme. The poems speak like “a gust of gorgeous / thundering swallows.” She identifies her models as Christina Rossetti and Charlotte Mew, whose Goblin Market and “Farmer’s Bride” rightfully haunt the collection. But her real soulmate is Thomas Lovell Beddoes, the ultimate poet of the queer and scary whose masterpiece,Death’s Jest Book, was left appropriately unfinished. She may ask us to “unspook” her dreams, but we won’t succeed. The uncanny is too engrained in her sensibility. All we can ask is that she continue to keep writing.
Mary Meriam is a poet who takes risks, by which I don’t mean what you think I mean. There’s nothing risky about breaking rules that haven’t been in effect since 1880. I’m talking about the modern rules, the new respectability, the advice given in poetry workshops by legions of successful poets whom no one reads. Mary doesn’t give a shit about Pound’s “don’ts,” she’s too busy writing fierce, gorgeous poems about love and pain. She’s a true rebel, in all her heartfelt, singsong, vulnerable, girly glory.
Mary Meriam is an accomplished technician and imaginative Mother Goose artist, who like Mother Goose (my favorite collection in the world), is almost always serious, even tragic, along with fun. I am floored by poems with lines like the opening of “I Learn Today My Mother Lied”: “Not one drop of Jewish blood / in me or you!” my mother cried, / as if she had a drop to hide... We are lucky to have her dissident voice.
Mary Meriam’s formalist poems are compressed bliss, dreamlike couplets and velvet quatrains honed to a fabric delightfully carnal. Like two of her touchstones, Frost and Bishop, her masterful metrics are handmaidens to her message at play in the fields of passion, loss, and redemption.
—J. Patrick Lewis
This is my kind of a poet. ‘She speaks,’ as Larkin said of the beautiful and wistful and utterly different Stevie Smith, ‘with the authority of sadness.’ She also speaks in the language of tradition. She uses old forms fiercely. She is rather a fierce poet. Oh, and a Lesbian. You can’t ignore that. But what does she do? Do with words. Magic. Above all, Mary Meriam is a magic poet and if that is what you want (as I do) this is a book for you.
Poems by Mary Meriam in a hand-made chapbook published by Seven Kitchens Press on September 21, 2016. Limited edition of 49 copies.