Award winning poet to visit IUS

IUS Horizon

Constance Merritt

Constance Merritt

The IUS Library is holding a poetry reading for Constance Merritt, who is a published and award winning poet on Nov. 18 at 12:15 p.m.

She has won many awards which include Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, a Library of Virginia Book Award finalist, and a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Book Award.

Merritt is originally from Arkansas and is blind. She lived in Arkansas until she was 18 years old.

“I’ve always liked to write,” Merritt said. “In fourth grade I won a writing contest and really enjoyed it.”

Constance Merritt has written two books called “A Protocol for Touch” and “Blessings and Inclemencies.” A third book is soon to be released called “Two Rooms.”

She also created cards with verses for her family when she was a child and thought it was a beautiful talent. Merritt seeks inspiration from poets like Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath or works of art.

“That’s 70 percent of my inspiration and the rest of it comes from life experiences,” Merritt said.

Her writing process is simple.

“Away from the page, I let things percolate.” Merritt said. “I do very little pre-writing.”

She describes her writing as formal, rooted in classical myths, and figurative. Merritt also said that many of the themes or ideas she writes about keep reoccurring in her work.

“As a writer you get stuck with yourself,” Merritt said.

Nancy Totten, coordinator of references at IU Southeast, said that Merritt is friends with someone at the library and that is how they got her to do a poetry reading.

“Her work is infused with classical illusion,” Totten said. “It’s simple but it has depth.”

Maria Accardi, an instructional librarian at IU Southeast and a friend of Merritt, said that Merritt is a talented poet.

“Her poetry is magnificent, beautiful, and heartbreaking,” Accardi said. “It makes you feel things.”

“Her craftsmanship is amazing and she addresses humanity and loneliness but not in a cliché way.”

Merritt’s favorite poem that she has written is called “Separation” in her first book called “Protocol for Touch.” She said she received the inspiration for that particular poem when she met another poet.

Merritt said she hopes the poetry reading would be a pleasurable experience, although it goes by so fast. For those who may not be that familiar, she hopes that the poetry reading would be a small sample and make people more interested afterward.

By MARY LYONS
Staff Writer
marlyons@ius.edu