*Finalist for Lambda Literary Award!These poems are brilliant and dangerous. The opening poem, “Invisible Woman, Dancing,” is the best protest poem of the decade. The speaker attends a party full of casual, good-intentioned racists and ableists. The ending of the poem is explosive. Constance Merritt shows incredible range – erotic poems to a wayward lover; blues lyrics so rhythmic I can nearly hear the guitar; and devotional poems that offer “this, you know, is love, is all, the end.” Blind Girl Grunt is a major work by a major poet.
-Jillian Weise Merritt’s latest collection is a back in bend-bend in love, bend in prayer, and bend in anger. A Blues infiltrates these lines and stanzas, ready to sing and stay (as any devoted lover) through the long haul. And the haul here is a woman, her myriad contents, in medias res.
-CM Burroughs Beyond their shared-and dazzling-immunity to taboos, the poems in Constance Merritt’s fourth book are very different from each other. Different in form, from stern villanelles to get-drunk-on-them blues poems to wandering narratives. And they are different in their tones, with ruthless self-awareness next to sexy lullaby next to persuasive rage at being “unmoored and vanishing” beyond “the flag of whiteness.” Even within single poems, tone is protean. “The Less Than Greater Than Blues” is goofily playful and also as blunt as blunt gets about the roots of the suffering we cause each other. The penultimate poem “Advent” shifts between a longing that intends to wreck and a longing that intends to redeem. In fact the book as a whole shifts between these longings. As do we. Merritt implicates us gently but without hesitation, wrapping us into the “brilliant skin, the ruinous eyes, / the body poised in transit” that opens the collection and that judges and blesses, throughout it. Blind Girl Grunt is supple, and rigorous, and so surprising. It is vital.