Walt McDonald First-Book Series in Poetry

by Miriam Vermilya

Introduction by Robert A. Fink

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

74 Pages, 0.00 x 0.00 x 0.00

  • Hardcover
  • 9780896724310
  • Published: April 2000


Miriam Vermilya was a retired grade school teacher and a well known painter and writer in Greenville, Ohio, where she lived. When she died unexpectedly in January of 1999, the Greenville Writers Group, of which she was a founding member, collected these poems into what became the winning manuscript of the 1999 Walt McDonald First-Book Competition in Poetry. The poems sum up Vermilya’s reflections on her life, love, and marriage; the deaths of friends and family members; and, most poignantly, her own aging and death. Her voice is calm, practical, even humorous; never morbid, always generous. By her example she encourages us to feel, while we have time, the beauty of our own joys and sorrows. from “Consider Socrates” . . . We all say we want it to be sudden: a lightning bolt to the brain, a stutter in the arteries, then sleep, or something like it—our hands still clutching the rake or an atlas turned to a map of Afghanistan— but wouldn’t it be better to know? a three-month warning would be nice; you’d want to burn those letters nestled in a shoebox on the closet shelf, finish up the pint of Seagram’s hidden in the desk’s third drawer and trash the butt-sprung underwear a derelict would be ashamed to wear to any accident. . . . “Do not go gentle”? Miriam Vermilya’s poems are indeed gentle in their grappling with the great mysteries of love and death, but they are also tough, sharp, warm, and beautifully shaped. . . .These poems leave us with our own terrible, sweet division, caught between regret that their author did not live to see this first book published and gratitude that she left it to nourish and delight us.— Jeff Gundy Heartwood is full of poems that convey a fine sense of immediacy as if Miriam Vermilya were thinking the poem through as we are reading it. Her voice is sometimes witty, other times plangent, but always sharpened by a curiosity about what lies ahead. This is a rich collection, packed with fresh, stimulating lyrics.—Billy Collins