“I was, and am on re-reading, particularly taken by the two works by Joanne Merriam: “Tender Aliens (after Gertrude Stein)” and “Love in the Time of Alien Invasion.” Both are fresh and direct in their language; and both are informed primarily by everyday and colloquial speech rather than poetic structure or a traditionally poetic sense of language. The Stein-esque poem shows its influence, even for those of us who, like myself, have read less Stein than they would like to do some day. The borrowing is creative, insofar as the approach to language yields up an approach to ideas.”
“Joanne Merriamâ€™s amusing, if wry, depiction of â€œDeaths on Other Planetsâ€ was the clear winner in poetry this year”
“‘Spring in Rutherford County’ by Joanne Merriam is a story of misogyny taken to extreme levels. In twenty lines of first person (male) viewpoint we are told of the fate of the last documented woman. The narrator’s voice and wording are keys to the poem, and Merriam has done an excellent job of hinting to the readers much more of the story than the basic plot alone tells.”
“I came across this poem called CUNT by Joanne Merriam and I had to stop and read it once, twice and three times (wouldn’t you) and let me write here Merriam’s last line: “See how moonlight’s sharp music breaks all your windows.” I have glass all over my office. I have glass everywhere in the parlor, on the couch. And there are birds. And fish. And there is glass all over everything. That’s what reading Vellum is and the sound.”
“… a few real gems …”
“Along with “Deer April,” Vallum includes a poem called “Cunt” by Joanne Merriam. This title, like “Deer April,” sounds like a cliche (one can only imagine how many poems with this title read at how many slams, included in how many zines). Yet Merriam uses language to shift the reader’s attention from the title to the surprising and ironic, yes, to something lovely, letting the poem deliver a fresh shock.”
– Philip Miller, review of “Vallum: Contemporary Poetry,” literary magazine review, Vol. 21, No. 3, Fall 2002.