Exploding with dazzling images and fierce humor is Katie Mertz’s chapbook Flower Poems. 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.
In “Rebuilding the Titanic,” the speaker muses about the irony of naming the titanic unsinkable, and the futility of rebuilding the ship: “That building a boat or a horse / or a lover and naming it UNSINKABLE is not // a guarantee” (lines 9-11). I love the wittiness of this poem, and the play on irony. It also speaks to the chapbooks’ tendency to gather inspiration from unlikely sources, such as the Trembling Giant in the poem “Pando” and the moon in the poem “Blood Moon.”
I think Flower Poems also 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.
Also, on a side note, I really like the cover of Flower Poems, as well as the feel of the book.
P.S: Be sure to read about Frontier Slumber below. It’s an awesome new press!
*As part of my goal to promote small presses, here is some information about Frontier Slumber: “Frontier Slumber is a miniature mansion built by hand in Bloomington, Indiana using paper, thread, and cassette tape imported from across the Midwest. Its builders and caretakers are Joshua Johnston, Paul Asta, and Kaylin Goodman. FS houses poems and stories either brave enough or dumb enough to remain graceful in the event of a collapsed roof or electrical fire. All impassioned missives and drunken screeds can be directed at frontierslumber (at) gmail (dot) com.”*
(cover of Flower Poems courtesy of Frontier Slumber)