10 - The Countess of Flatbroke by Mary Meriam Oct 11, 2008 9:07:43 GMT 2
Post by shayepoet on Oct 11, 2008 9:07:43 GMT 2
The Countess of Flatbroke
From Lillian Faderman's Afterword
Mary Meriam's poems are queer and quirky, funny and poignant, bold and brave. Her eponymous Countess of Flatbroke is a witty contrast to Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke, who shadows these poems. Sidney—granddaughter of a duke; Renaissance mistress of a castle; celebrated by the likes of John Donne, Edmund Spenser, and George Herbert; one of those who "from birth to death [was] connected, pampered, lucky, rich"— had the wherewithal that permitted her to become the first British woman to enjoy literary repute. In Meriam's tragic-comic poem, "The Bitter Side of Flatbroke," the Countess of Flatbroke laments her own very different lot. Countess Flatbroke is engaged in "this constant jungle fight to get a sip/ of water, find a place to rest, too hot,/ too cold, too worried, hungry, lost, alone." She feels deeply the deprivation of what Virginia Woolf characterized as the "500 pounds a year" that, along with "a room of one's own," was the sine qua non of a woman's ability to write. Yet the poems in this collection belie the putative inimical effect of penury on poetry.
The Countess of Flatbroke
I shun the man-made world and stay at home.
This suits the world, since I am very queer.
I eat my spinach quiche and write a poem.
I like my chair and bed; it's pleasant here.
Except one little problem, namely cash,
which threatens to undo my little life.
The bank account is headed for a crash.
The fridge is empty—where's my working wife?
What happens when a poet lives beyond
the time she would have died, except for fate?
A strange career, but not designed to bond
somebody to a steady job this late.
I have no skills in generating wealth.
I've spent my time recovering my health.
The Bitter Side of Flatbroke
Some people lead an easy life, from birth
to death, connected, pampered, lucky, rich,
convinced that smiling fate defines their worth,
quite safe and snug and settled in their niche.
I wonder why I can't be one of them.
If I had money, I'd have time to write
and read and socialize with any femme
or butch or in-between who came in sight.
Or spend my time alone or take a trip.
Then I could call my life a life and not
this constant jungle fight to get a sip
of water, find a place to rest, too hot,
too cold, too worried, hungry, lost, alone.
Perhaps someone will throw this dog a bone.
Reviews for The Countess of Flatbroke:
"Mary Meriam’s collection displays the surety of one who knows the most reliable form to house quirky, idiosyncratic subject matter is perhaps the most traditional, and my own personal favorite, the sonnet. This book contains ten single sonnets and one sonnet sequence, which build up, alongside the other poems, a kind of portrait of a way of life the reader might ascribe to the title character, the Countess of Flatbroke..."
--The Barefoot Muse, Modern Metrics Press
"The Countess of Flatbroke is a welcome contribution to the world of lesbian literature with its humor and fantasy for contemporary lesbian life and its imaginative historical framework.
--Julie R. Enszer, From Pembroke to Flatbroke
"[But] it was the strength of Mary’s voice, the mix of humour and poignancy, and the tone and structure of her poems which caught my attention....
The journey I read through The Countess of Flatbroke is Mary Meriam demanding and constructing a place for herself within lesbian and feminist literary history. This often involves a re-reading and fresh approach to personal and literary histories in order to uncover what was once left unwritten, unable to be said. No-one understands this better than Lillian Faderman, lesbian historian and cultural theorist, who writes the Afterword to the book. This demonstrates the successful voice of the Countess, and is Mary’s icing on the cake.
--Nicki Hastie, Flavours of The Countess
About the author:
Mary Meriam's first book of poems, The Countess of Flatbroke (afterword by Lillian Faderman) was published in 2006 by Modern Metrics Press and received an award from the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Mary's poems and essays have been published in Literary Imagination, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Windy City Times, Prairie Home Companion, Sinister Wisdom, Light Quarterly, and Umbrella, among others.
The Countess of Flatbroke's Treasury of Poems
How To Be A Flatbroke Poet And Get A Chapbook
ISBN: 0-9778273-2-1, 20 pages, $10.00
Modern Metrics Press, 2006
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Modern Metrics Press: tinyurl.com/4gvvmt