Jo Merrill

Woodspurge is a posthumous collection of poems by Jo Merrill, who died in 2002. Her husband Bill self-published this collection in 2004 as a memorial to Jo, and it received an Honorable Mention in the Writers' Digest 11th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards that year. Bill republished it with Homeostasis Press in 2006.

Jo's poetry is striking for its qualities of verbal imagination, wit, auditory playfulness, and love of language. She is sharply attentive to the details of the world, and the resulting work is full of metaphysical energy.

The richness of her metaphors illustrate Jo's need, and ability, to connect with the mysteries at the hearts of things.

This charming, evocative, and extensive collection is divided into five sections:

"Woodspurge," the largest section, consists of 58 poems that span a wide variety of topics. They include numerous very short, personal poems, a set of four "Seasonals" and several other seasonal references, and one of her husband's favorites, "Cinnabar Is What I'll Say to My Husband If I Should Leave Awhile."

"In Tongues" is a group of 20 poems written after reading the book "Technicians of the Sacred," a collection of rarely heard non-European voices. Jo's poems include a set of five short "Bantu Riddles" (each answer given at the bottom of the page), and others referencing Aztec, Cherokee, and Egyptian culture.

The nine poems in "In Art Class in Archipelagos, Reflections of an Art Teacher," are as self-explanatory as the section's title.

"View from the Gorge" is a set of 15 poems written at the Gorge Rehabilitation Hospital in Victoria, British Columbia. Five of them, all titled "My Stuff," provide a sort of thread connecting the rest. Others are named for and descriptive of doctors, nurses, and people who came to visit.

The 16 poems in "Montage from Summers on the Farm" refer to family memories. One, "Pookie," is named for a cousin; one is titled "Grandma"; and the longest and last is named for Jo's grandfather, "Chester Hezekiah Packenham, 1868-1952."