Days in a Life
6 x 8 inches
How to see her?: A question which runs throughout
this suite of anecdotal poems about Georgia OKeeffe. Carol Merrill,
her cook, librarian, reader, nurse, and companion from 1973-79, offers
a unique portraitbrief pictures linked toward a respectful bow,
words bare as flint chipsa purity of language as honor. No romantic
figure here, but OKeeffe in feisty form and essential substance:
real and strong and rooted in the red hills of Abiquiu.
Carol Merrills tribute to Georgia
OKeeffe are poems in the shape of finely rendered sketches, some
of them even paintings. These intimate images convey the delicate shape
of OKeeffes final years in New Mexico.
When I got OKeeffe
mss I sat down after midnite at kitchen table when I shouldve
been in bed & read thru in an hour because it was interesting, curious,
distinctive, focused, condensed, epiphanous, ordinary & understandable.
The details are all, sacramentalizing everyday life in a world of geniusa
woman, vast space, chewy intelligence, almost selfless observation.
'Days' paints a different picture of O'Keeffe
Another book about Georgia O'Keeffe? Another book of poems?
Yes and no.
On an informational level, Carol S. Merrill's O'Keeffe: Days in a
Life is indeed a book of poems about the painter.
But on an artistic level, the book is a joy to behold.
Merrill, who was O'Keeffe's aide, cook, librarian, reader, nurse and
companion from 1973 through 1979, offers an uncommon perspective of
this world-famous painter. It is the unique portait of a feisty and
strong woman artist by a poet who comes across as senseitive and strong.
In her March, 1978, poemthe untitled poems are printed chronologicallyMerrill
writes about the meeting of their different artistic worlds.
"Sunday morning O'Keeffe and I
discussed how to find your own voice,
your own vision.
I argued a painter can get off
alone and work in color
but a writer must use words
which requires a community
of minds, you write to a community
of minds, I said.
She spoke harshly, very loudly,
'Do you think that
community of minds cares a moment
for what you have to say?
Of course they don't!...'"
For those curious about O'Keeffe's art and life, Merrill, a librarian
at Albuquerque's Garfield Middle School, says a great deal about her
in a most refreshing manner.
The book is like a clear drop of water into a pond teeming with too
much life. In her spare use of words, Merrill paints a picture of the
artist quite different from all the books, calendars and articles about
Merrill's poems travel from the mundane to the sublime. And through
Merrill's words, O'Keeffe shares much--the past, how she paints, her
late husband Alfred Stieglitz, music, food, rattlesnakes. And much more.
If you don't like poetry, but like O'Keeffe, you'll love this book.
If you don't like O'Keeffe, but like poetry, you'll love this book anyway.
Copyright © 1996 Karen Stone
O'Keeffe answered my letter.I first visited her
one day in August, 1973. She hired me to work on weekends as librarian,
secretary, cook, nurse, or companion from 1973 to 1979. This poetry
is from my journals written a few hours after the experiences.
not like poetry. However, she would listen to Witter Bynner's translations
of Chinese poets in Jade Mountain. O'Keeffe often had me read aloud
to her from biographies of the great. Many times we re-read an ancient
Taoist text Secret of the Golden Flower.
me to cook. She taught me to look, really look, at things. She showed
me how to live. She let me know her when she faced old age, blindness,
and death in the last years of her life.
be remembered. She was a woman of fierce temper, infinite kindness,
and impeccable sense of artistry. She encouraged me and changed my life.
I like to think
of her walking in beauty beneath ancient cliffs at Ghost Ranch. This
work is thanks for the strength of her will and the spirit of her work.
Carol Merrill lives in New Mexico.