by Noor Hindi
Katie Mertz’s new chapbook Flower Poems is exploding with dazzling images and fierce humor. Readers will fall in love with this collection because it’s quirky and emotionally compelling. Mertz’s voice is honest and funny, and I want to carry so many of these poems in my pocket for the rainy days. Although this chapbook only houses 12 poems, some of my favorites, including “Rebuilding the Titanic” and “Lives” are in Flower Poems.
Published by Frontier Slumber Press, Flower Poems was released this year. This is Mertz’s first chapbook, and she has a lot of advice for those who are thinking about publishing their own.
“My advice to writers looking to have a chapbook published is going to sound really cheesy, and probably not all that helpful: Don’t Stop. A lot of the writing and publishing process can wear on you, but it’s so important to just keep going because the work itself is too important to give up on,” Mertz says.
Flower Poems does an excellent job at exposing the tension between hope and despair. There’s an underlying sadness threaded throughout the chapbook that is balanced with a brave reflection on the nature of mankind. The speaker feels very human because she is admittedly flawed: “maybe I am part of the problem” (“Pando,” line 32). The last poem in the chapbook, titled “Lives,” dwells on the importance of pain for existence. Even as the speaker says, “some days I am // dripping so much human sadness” (lines 18-19) she admits that “the pain / is welcome because I understand // it is fleeting” (lines 14-16). It is this raw emotional honesty that makes me love Flower Poems.
Mertz is a graduate of the NEOMFA, and an employee at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. She also co-curates the Big, Big Mess Reading Series, a monthly event that hosts local and national poets at Annabell’s Bar and Lounge. The Big, Big Mess takes its name from the song “Big Mess,” which was written by the NEO-based band DEVO.
“If I had any goal, it is simply to be an outlet for others—for writers who have just published a book or chapbook and are looking for some publicity, and for listeners who are looking to take a breather from the world to grab a drink and, maybe, be inspired in some way” says Mertz.
For more poetic badassery, check out The Nervous Poodle Poet’s blog at nervouspoodlepoetry.com. Then go write some poems, you poet, you.