Blind Girl Grunt
Constance Merritt’s fourth book of poems, Blind Girl Grunt: The Selected Blues Lyrics and Other Poems is a dazzling collection of poems that display this rousing poet’s wide-ranging talents. These poems are brilliant in their use of form, rhythm and language and impressive in their turns. They slide effortlessly to and fro among political thunders, passionate and lovelorn ballads, and blues lyrics in a voice that is alternately playful, angry, spirited or erotic. The book’s opening poem, “Invisible Woman Dancing” is a ruthlessly self-aware rant that ends explosively. In her section “On Civil Disobedience” Merritt voices our collective dismay at “what gets lost” when we get caught “in hooks of eyes.” She slides easily into ballads that place lovelorn refrains alongside sensual love songs. In introducing her “Selected Blues Lyrics” Merritt informs us that Janis Ian used the alias "Blind Girl Grunt" when contributing tracks to Broadside magazine’s folk music compilations, while under contract to another label. This is instructive in that, not only is Merritt herself blind and brilliant at blues riffs, but she also invites us to witness her own many aliases, conversing with one another powerfully on these pages. Blind Girl Grunt is a major work by a vital poet.