No Winter Maintenance: Pass at Your Own Risk, Merritt's sixth book of poetry, begins with her husband's infidelity and makes clear that no woman (certainly not this poet) will put up with that. This collection of 60 poems includes reflections and observations about society, human behavior, and the healing gift of nature.
What Poets Are Saying
When I read the spare, utterly dignified and beautifully crafted poems in Donna Marie Merritt’s introspective and worldly collection, No Winter Maintenance, I couldn’t help but think of the evocative and understated poems of Kobayashi Issa or Tu Fu—how after I’d first read them they snuck up on me days later and leveled me like a proverbial ton of bricks. I found the poems knife cuttingly precise in their intelligence and human observations and I discovered myself haunted by them days after I’d read them. Her poems see the things we would recognize if we were not so self-absorbed. Anyone who cares about the world should read this book. It will remind you how difficult and wonderful it is to be in love, alive and completely involved.
~Bruce Cohen, author of Imminent Disappearance, Impossible Numbers, & Panoramic X-Rays
An empathetic awareness of what it means to be human infuses No Winter Maintenance. As a poet both of witness and action, Merritt recognizes the self-imposed obstacles standing in the way of our full understanding and appreciation of life. She has a tender yet potent way of imbuing the little things with greater purpose. Through brief vignettes, No Winter Maintenance’s larger story unfolds; it’s one of familiar struggle, hidden beauty, and, finally, unceasing song.
~John Sibley Williams, award-winning poet of nine collections, including Disinheritance
In No Winter Maintenance, Donna Marie Merritt writes with authentic vulnerability. She skillfully maneuvers through the rough roads of divorce, rejection, and confrontation to the scenic streets of love, kindness, and acceptance.
~Loretta Diane Walker, author of Word Ghetto and In This House, winner of the 2016 Wheatley Book Award for Poetry
In Donna Marie Merritt's lovely collection, No Winter Maintenance, the speaker describes the true meaning of identity theft: "When someone controls you / Decisions are not yours." She eavesdrops in a diner, witnesses the death of a two-year-old in an emergency room, describes the "first wooded walk / of spring" in which she is "astonished / by a jogger / ear buds blocking / the symphony." These are wise, trustworthy poems in which the speaker compares the formality of a first marriage "Diamonds and promises / A church" to the freedom and kindness of a second: "cradling a bouquet of wild daisies." She is able to find pleasure through "delicate precision / pencil on paper."
~Faith Shearin, author of five books of poetry, including The Owl Question, winner of the May Swenson Poetry Award
"Through honest and straightforward images, Donna Marie Merritt’s poems navigate the wonders freely given us, where even clouds appear as “swirled by hand, child’s free / art”, and where one finds herself “ridiculously surprised— / to realize / how content I am.” Such luminous joys sometimes come amid events that haunt us, and during these times life’s choices are reduced such that “Decisions are not yours” for “You no longer know who you are.” Yet as Merritt reminds us, tragedy can be lessened by humor. We find liberty, even briefly, in “leaving the world’s expectations behind” and through simple redemptions where we find ourselves “sitting in the fading light / as summer welcomes us home.” With keen sensitivity, No Winter Maintenance is a celebratory witness, one poised and moving."
~Jeffrey C. Alfier, Editor at Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review
Sometimes you come to the end of a long, hard day and realize you haven’t noticed anything. You’ve plodded through the world—this miraculous world—in a coma. That’s when you need to pour yourself a generous glass of wine, sink down in your favorite chair by the fireplace, and open your copy of No Winter Maintenance. In these lovely, keenly observed poems Donna Marie Merritt reminds us again and again that attention must be paid. Listen to the spring frogs sing. Exult in the first snowfall of the year. Revel in the misfortunes of your ex-husband. Let these poems, which somehow manage the difficult trick of being both wise and wickedly funny, remind you of why we are so lucky to be here, and here together.