Megan Merchant is a resident of Prescott, Arizona, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from UNLV. Her second full-length collection, The Dark’s Humming, was the winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2017). She is also the author of four chapbooks: Translucent, sealed. (Dancing Girl Press, 2015), In the Rooms of a Tiny House (ELJ Publications, 2016), Unspeakable Light (Throwback Books, 2016), and A Thousand Paper Cranes (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming). Gravel Ghosts is her debut full-length poetry collection through Glass Lyre Press. She also has a children’s book forthcoming through Philomel Books.
DS: Why do you write poetry?
MM: For so many reasons. For one, I write because I love language. I experience it as a pulsing, tangible element: the tools for trying like hell to make sense of what it means to be awake in this world. I write poetry specifically because I have had a long love affair with images and music. I write to give my brain something to do other than limp around and worry without taking action. I write as a form of meditation. I write so that I can see my breath in a season other than winter. I write to reclaim my agency and to connect with others. I write with the hope of creating something beautiful and worthwhile. I write to connect with people in an intentional way. I write to give my own prayers ink and a spine.
DS: What do you hope to find in poems written by other people?
MM: I read hoping to fall in love, in every way: with the order and disorder of words, the images that open my own mind and eyes to fragments of this world in which I am both familiar and estranged, with honesty, music, and perspective. I am always hoping to find a part that makes me do that little sucked-in breath of awe and inspiration. But mostly I am hoping to fall in love.
DS: Describe your works in progress.
MM: I have three manuscripts that I wrote over the last eight months. They are nearly complete and radically different. The third manuscript begins with the quote from E.M. Forster: “I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.” It brings into focus the violence and terror of this world from a mother’s perspective—one who grows to become “all mothers” by taking on their sorrow. It’s about interconnectedness and started with a spiritual quest to truly understand the differences between empathy and compassion.
MM: I hope that more poems will “go viral” and extend their reach. Also, that the publishing world will continue to grow in an inclusive way, bringing unrecognized voices into the light.