Karla Linn Merrifield


Maybe he’s simply afraid
of becoming just one more
poem in some book’s collection.

Maybe he’s simply leery,
doesn’t want to be numbered
sixty-three in her in-progress opus…

Some poets can perfectly delineate suggestive images to tell an emotion. They put powerful narratives on paper that can evoke or deconstruct a mishmash of feelings. Karla Linn Merrifield achieves this. Simply.

Karla’s style is always recognizable when she writes poems in longer or shorter formats. In this brief poem, she makes emotions visible through her vivid narrative rhythm. Words follow the syncopated pace of heartbeats. How do 16 lines contain the entangled emotions of infatuation? Four concise stanzas reveal longing, desire, and the essence of an intimate connection. The poem is “chock-full of emotions”; it appears to be simply true, not a simulated emotion for literary purposes.

Karla openly declares her inspiration: this is the story of a poet who has found her muse. But relationships are never that simple, and they bring with them doubts and ruminations. The structure of the poem is lucid and plays on duality. It seems a silent dialogue between two lovers, fragments of an amorous speech. This stream of lovers’ thoughts is revealed on paper. The poet reflects on her beloved’s feelings in the relationship: will he trust her, or will he fear becoming just another literary subject? Will he believe her genuine feelings, or will he think he is just another source of inspiration for poems? On the other hand, is it infatuation or just food for thought?

Karla is a poet who questions the best form to express emotions from the beginning to the end. Each stanza is calibrated to close the poem with a decisive and forceful line. Poetic closure is one of her stylistic hallmarks. Her lyrical compositions are eclectic and characterized by immediacy. They play with sounds, metrics, and registers. They result from sharp images, crystal clear first in the brain and then in the writing. The author does not disdain the use of photographic media that allows her to fix emotion and inspiration first visually rather than verbally. Moleskine journals and photographs in the phone’s memory are just some of the visual notes that led Karla to write such accurate poems. The frequent use of imagery harks back to great masters of poetry like Walt Whitman and William Heyen without being an epigone of them. Karla’s references are also strongly contemporary, dialoguing with current poets such as Miriam Sagan.

Research, emotion, and lucidity are the keywords of Karla Linn Merrifield’s poetry. A high standard that has been achieved over a long career, with a thousand poems written, 16 books published to her credit, nominations for National Book Awards, and frequent literary contributions in journals and anthologies. Her immediate poems reveal a paradox: they simply show that emotions are never that simple.

Karla Linn Merrifield is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Emotions call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Emotions issue.


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