River Ghosts by Merril D. Smith #bookreview #poetry

I’m sharing this review by Marie A Bailey of my book, River Ghosts.


I always feel apprehensive when reviewing poetry, maybe more so than when I’m writing the poetry myself. Some time ago, I took an online writing course, and the instructor mentioned in passing that she liked writing poetry because you didn’t need to explain poetry like you would explain a story or an essay. While that idea frees me to write poetry, it definitely makes it more difficult to review poetry.

Poetry is like music, like art. You can admire the technique, the skill in putting words (or notes or paints) together in a pleasing way. But the poetry I’m attracted to does more than please me. It lifts me out of myself and sets me to ponder ideas and feelings I either hadn’t considered or had been afraid to acknowledge. So ends my long introduction to this review of Merril D. Smith’s book, River Ghosts.

Cover art by Jay…

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Not a Typical Journey: Curtis Smith Interviews Merril D. Smith

Curtis Smith interviewed me for Small Press Reviews

Small Press Reviews

Merril D. Smith is a historian and poet with a Ph.D. from Temple University in American History. She is the author/editor of many works on history, gender, and sexuality. Her poetry has appeared in Black Bough Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, Fevers of the Mind, and others. She one of the hosts of the online dVerse Poets Pub. Her first poetry collection, River Ghosts was published in April 2022 by Nightingale and Sparrow Press. She lives in southern New Jersey near the Delaware River with her husband and cat.

You can find her at merrildsmith.com or on her blog, merrildsmith.wordpress.com. You can find

River Ghosts on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/River-Ghosts-Merril-D-Smith/dp/B09WZ8F9XJ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=H88P7SQGOIVR&keywords=merril+d.+smith&qid=1654011427&sprefix=Merril+D%2Caps%2C64&sr=8-1

or through the publisher, Nightingale & Sparrow: https://nightingaleandsparrow.com/river-ghosts-by-merril-d-smith/

Curtis Smith: Congratulations on River Ghosts. I really enjoyed it. I’m always interested in the journey of a first collection. How did you end up working with Nightingale and Sparrow? How has the process been?

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and lend your voice to worldwide peace!

formidable woman sanctuary

Spirit Thom gives us a push: let’s combine our creative energies and see what happens! Read the thread of poems begun here (his and mine) and post your own response, in the comments below, taking your prompt from the previous poems. Send this link out to your list. Let’s see how far and wide we can send our words. They matter! & they might just make a postive impact for change for the Highest Good.

Photo by Bekky Bekks on Unsplash

BEGINS WHEN YOU RESPOND TO THIS INVITATION(as of Wednesday June 1,2022 CST) Extends when you take responsibility for your poetic communications Grows when you link BY ANY MEDIA POSSIBLE into the growing world of poetic peaceful modes and styles Basically,this initiates a POETIC RELAY-you respond then pass this invite on to any person who might take it further via creating then communicating ways and means in metaphor of their…

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#bookreview: River Ghosts

Elizabeth Gauffreau has written such a thoughtful review of my poetry book, River Ghosts–and she even made a video! 💙

Elizabeth Gauffreau

Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon.

My Review

Merril D. Smith’s debut collection is poetry of the felt but unseen, those moments in life when we feel in touch with something greater than ourselves to which only poetry can give voice. Even then, we can never fully understand it. We just know it’s there, a form of faith we never knew we needed.

The title poem, “River Ghosts,” introduces the idea that our sensory experience of the natural world–”dusty grass,” “a gull’s laugh,” “cloud-light shimmering,” “spring-scented rain”–can evoke memories and dreams we thought we’d forgotten. However, it becomes apparent after reading the entire collection that we can only hear a “whisper in that dusty grass” if we are attuned to the wavelength on which it travels.

Smith does not limit her experience of the natural world to earth and water. A number of the poems look skyward to…

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Celebrate Poetry in the Blogosphere on April 23

Announcement #2–I’m going to be participating in this fabulous Poets in the Blogosphere event. Luanne put together such a great post, that I’m just going to reblog it. Please register and join us on April 23!

Luanne Castle's Writer Site

Consider this an invitation to attend a National Poetry Month special event dear to my heart! We are holding a zoom poetry reading honoring the theme this year: THERE’S A POEM IN THIS PLACE.  This line is taken from a poem by 2021 Presidential Inaugural Poet and 2017 National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.  Our place is the blogosphere!

The theme for National Poetry Month 2022 is There’s A Poem in This Place. Two places to find contemporary poetry at its most vibrant are in the blogging community and at live readings. On 23 April 2022 from 4-5:30 PM ET, the two places cometogetherwhen a select group of poets from the blogosphere present a live reading of their poetry at Poets in the Blogosphere. Most poetry is meant to be read aloud, and hearing poets read their own work is a heightened experience.The event is moderated by Elizabeth Gauffreau…

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2 – 28

My haiku was one of those selected for Pure Haiku’s Ghostlight Theme, inspired by Ghostlight, Troi David Loy’s beautiful fractal. My thanks to the artist and to Freya Pickard.


icy violet
terrains gleam beyond time-space,
beware sirens call

© Merril D. Smith

Merril D. Smith writes poetry with a cat on her lap and gazes out the window at birds and trees.

Merril’s haiku were shortlisted for the Featured Haiku Writer.

This haiku is part of our Ghostlight theme.

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Day 20: December in Bleakness and Joy

Every morning in December, I look for the poem in Sarah Connor’s advent series. Today, it’s mine. Thank you Sarah for putting together this series–and for asking me to participate in this beautiful tradition again. Happy Holidays to all!

Sarah writes poems

And now, the trees bare-branched sway
beneath the long night’s moon, roots cocooned
below the fallen snow—so we belay

our fears of endless night with candle flicker, delight
in twinkling glow and flow of wassail cheer.

Against the black-winged sky, the skeleton trees dream,
the flowers sleep beneath frost-gleam,

and we yearn for green–and sights unseen–

for magic or miracles, banish the tragic
with mirth and song,

learn the true wonder is love, and the joy, to belong

while our Earth spins and turns–
the pale blue dot, our golden star–
bonded with a balanced pull, as lovers are

as we know, too,

when we look up to glimmers, ancient bright,
then open our hearts to recreate that light.

Thank you to Merril D Smith for this poem of light and love and joy.

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Deck the Storms – The Christmas Live Event – Eat the Storms – The Podcast Podcast

Deck the Storms, the Christmas Live Event–today!

eat the Storms

Podcast available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker, Player FM, Radio Public, OverCast, PocketCast, CastBox, ITunes, Podbean, Podcast Addicts and many more platforms.

This Live Show aires on Zoom, with tickets via Eventbrite on Saturday 14th December 2021 at 7.30pm GMT. Produced and hosted by Damien B. Donnelly and below are details and links to all the guest stars…

Ness Owen

Ness Owen is a poet and FE lecturer from Ynys Mon. She has been widely published in anthologies and journals including in Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, Mslexia, Red Poets, Poetry Wales, The Atlanta Review, Culture Matters, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Black Bough Journal and Mother’s Milks Books. Her first collection ‘Mamiaith’ (Mother Tongue) was published by Arachne Press in 2019 and her second collection will be published by Parthian in October 2022. She is currently co-editing an anthology themed on the A470 road through…

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