Mermer Blakeslee

Location Roscoe, NY 12776
Occupation writer, professional skier
Website http://coming
IM () not available

About Me

I've written poems since I was young. I used to imagine words were alive, clustering together or going off making stories on their own when they weren't hanging around people. I still feel there's something to that. After I had a child, the personal I of my poems shattered into other characters living lives I'd never lived, with voices that seemed to come from my grandfather's people. And so I fell into fiction and learned stories were irreducible truths, unable to be explained. I published two novels, Same Blood (Houghton Mifflin, 1989) and In Dark Water (Ballantine, 1998). With the financial help of three NYFA fellowships and the wonderful guidance of Tom Jenks, the editor of Narrative Magazine, I've now written a third, which is almost... polished. The problem is I'm two people--I'm also a professional skier, training teachers throughout the country as a former National Team member for the Professional Ski Instructors of America. I've written a non-fiction book, In the Yikes! Zone: A Conversation with Fear (Dutton, 2002) which emerged from my work with frightened students over the last 20 years using skiing as a metaphor for any act of surrender, any creative act. But my roots--my original connection to words--still lie in poetry. I need poems the way another might need a cigarette, or as Rilke said (but about God), " I need a crowbar or a hoe." That fits. And it also brings us to the ground. I love the "under-verbal"--long stretches of silence immersed in my garden and with our old animals on our defunct farm.

Why do you write?

To write I need two things. The first is to be held firmly by a particular place. And the second is to be empty enough to allow some characters to come in and start their slow, sometimes painful unveiling. I was born, raised, and still live in New York’s Catskill Mountains and my work reflects the dialect here—its rhythm, its weight, its swing, its inevitable dive at the end of the sentence back to the land it came from.

And I seem to be drawn to large, rough-hewn souls. My characters are often marginalized, living close to the ground and facing a world they can't make sense of.

Any favorite authors? Books?

Fiction:William Maxwell! They Came Like Swallows;So Long,See You Tomorrow;Time Will Darken It
Toni Morrison, Beloved. E.L Doctorow, Billy Bathgate. Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine.
William Kennedy, Ironweed. Russell Banks, Continental Drift; Affliction.
Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated. and........... The Odyssey.
Non-fiction authors: James Hillman. Michael Pollan. Witold Rybczynski.
Poets: Ted Kooser, Wm Carlos Wms, Louise Gluck, Louis Jenkins, Stanley Kunitz, David Ignatow, Donald Hall, Sharon Olds, Ruth Stone, Jane Hirshfield, Wm Stafford, Robert Bly, Galway Kinnell, Mark Doty, CK Williams, James Wright... Rilke! Olav Hauge, Neruda, Lorca....

Mermer Blakeslee's Wall

Ginnah Howard – Jun 29, 2009

Mermer, I just read your profile for the first time. I'm once again struck by how deeply you've thought about words, the whole process of writing, and how clearly you comvey that to your reader. Ginnah

Darryl Price – May 20, 2009

Hi Mermer--welcome to Fictionaut--looking forward to reading some of your poems.

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