Constance Merritt


Constance Merritt was born in 1966 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and studied at the Arkansas School for the Blind. She received a BA and MA from the University of Utah and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.She is the author of the poetry collections Blind Girl Grunt: The Selected Blues Lyrics and Other Poems (Headmistress Press, 2017), a finalist for the 2018 Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry; Two Rooms (Louisiana State University Press, 2009); Blessings and Inclemencies (Louisiana State University Press, 2007); and A Protocol for Touch (University of North Texas Press, 2000), winner of the Vassar Miller Prize.The poet Jillian Weise writes, “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.’”Merritt served as the writer-in-residence at Sweet Briar College from 2003 to 2005. She serves as poetry editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and is the co-founder of Bringing Justice Home, Inc., a food justice nonprofit  in Louisville, Kentucky. Source

A Study in Perspective


Looking at you was the hardest thing.


Taking off my clothes

While you stayed dressed,






My body a knife, my shoulder

Its blade, I cut a path before me.


Or sometimes I’m an apprentice ghost

Unsure in the art of haunting;


No one sees me as I pass.



No one sees me as I pass

Though someone is always looking,

Translating texts of skin and eyes

As: our lives are whole without her. 



The intention of the taker doesn’t matter;

Shame lies only in not being had,

Pain in too much having.



If you weren’t older by twenty years,

Superior in race, middle-class

By marriage and sighted,

You couldn’t whisper strip

And then refuse to do the same.


We get away with what we can,

And this poet gives what she gives.



Historically, it was a woman’s fate, a slave’s:

Submission to a gaze s/he can’t return.



I am not you; that’s you and not me.

From a distance the boundaries stay clear,

And fear lies coiled and sleeping in its place.



Up close, I look at you, give you

My body without its mask of blindness,

Allow you to see me, my eyes

As they work at seeing you.


And not because, as I have said,

I loved you more, or am most good,


Just well-rehearsed as vulnerable. 





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:


Body & Body Image


Doubt & Fear

Love & Relationships

Literary Devices:


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times