Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Author Interview: Donna Marie Merritt: Unfortunately Poetry Often Has A Short Shelf Life

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She is a lucky grown-up. She’s lucky because she LOVES her job. Her job is to write. She has two daughters, Brianna and Christine. She also has a stepson, Walker, and a husband, Stew. AND she has a dog, Peaches (she's a Yorkshire terrier), and a cat, Little. (Little was little when she was a kitten. Now she's a fat cat!)

A very warm welcome to Donna

Your real name and pen name?
I’ve written under Donna Marie Pitino (my name before I was remarried) and under a variety of pseudonyms for my children’s books. Starting with my first book of poetry, though, I use my real name for everything I write: Donna Marie Merritt.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood.
As a kid the world wasn't as scary as it is now. I was free to explore the woods, find box turtles, ride my bike to the library…all without being connected to a cell phone or any other electronic device. We had a certain amount of independence that I think children miss out on today.

About your education…
M.S. in Psychology, B.S. in Elementary Education, A.S. in Early Childhood Education

What career did you plan during your education days?
I planned to be a teacher and I did teach for 14 years, everything from preK, K, and grade 1 to middle school English to GED classes for adults. I’ve taught ages 4 to 64!

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
My family. I try to look at the world through the eyes of my children (all in their 20s) and witness events as a young adult might. That influences my writing and the way I live my life. Also, I could not be doing what I do without my incredibly supportive husband.

What hurts you most in this world?
The hate. The violence. I see absolutely not one reason for it. It’s especially heart-breaking when children are injured or killed, all because one group disagrees with another. There is no justification for that. We are all human beings and must be respectful of one another. Always. No excuses.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? Were you able to overcome it? How?
During the recent U.S. recession, I had been working as an editor when I was laid off. Two months later, my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. The only way I stayed sane during his year of treatment and my two+ years out of work was by writing poetry. By the way, Stew celebrated three years, cancer-free this spring!

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I could never do what she did for so long, but what a blessing it would be to walk in her shoes for one day, to touch the lives she touched.

What is your favorite genre and why?
Poetry. I love to read it and I love the challenge of writing it, communicating ideas using sparse, meaningful language. Children’s picture books are a close runner-up for the same reason.

What is the purpose of your writing?
I want to share my experiences and the joy of language and life with others. I hope that some of my work reaches people at a deeper level.

Which of your work has been published so far?
What’s Wrong with Ordinary? Poems to Celebrate Life (Avalon Press, 2012)
Cancer, A Caregiver’s View (Avalon Press, 2011)
Job Loss, A Journey in Poetry (Avalon Press, 2010)
Unfortunately, poetry often has a short shelf life and all three are out of print already. If interested in a signed copy of Ordinary or Cancer, you can contact me directly at dmarietm@aol.com.

I have also written 14 math and science children’s books for Abrams Learning Trends and Too-Tall Tina (http://www.kanepress.com/mm-tootall.html) for Kane Press.

Any new work?
Her House and Other Poems was released in June 2013. I’m especially pleased with this collection and would love, love, love for people to check it out. Some links…
Book trailer:
Where to buy:

What are your future plans?
I am working on a new poetry book about social justice.

Your dream destination on Earth?
I would by happy to simply live by the sea, write all day, let the sound of the waves lull me to sleep each night.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born in Rome. Okay—Rome, New York. I studied for a semester in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a college student, which was special for me because my grandmother was born in Scotland. Her House and Other Poems is dedicated to Grandma Casteel.

Your favorite time of the day?
Early evening when I can finally unwind, hopefully after a productive day. I love just getting into my comfy sweats, knowing I’m home for the night.

Your favorite book and why?
There are so, so many. Some of my favorite books for adults are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (it’s a beautiful read), Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (love the story and voice), Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (more poetic than many poetry books), and Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc (his best, I think). One of my favorite poetry books is Billy Collins’s Sailing Alone Around the Room. A favorite young adult novel is Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. And one of my favorite children’s books is Sorche Nic Leodhas’s Always Room for One More with illustrations by Nonny Hogrogian. But really, there are far too many for me to name.

Your favorite celebrity and why?
I don’t have one. But, I can tell you the ones I don’t like—those who “write” books and get them published not because there is any literary value to them, but simply because their names will make the publisher money.

Your favorite food?
White pizza with spinach. Yum. I could eat it every day.

Thanks so much for inviting me to share a little about myself and answer such interesting questions! To learn more, please go to http://www.DonnaMarieBooks.com or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Marie_Merritt


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