Significant #Poetry Reads, “River Ghosts,” by Merril D. Smith

I’ve been reading and enjoying Merril’s poetry for years now. Today, I’m thrilled to share my thoughts about her debut poetry book. Please click the image to find the book on

The first poem in this collection shares the title of the book, “River Ghosts,” which swept me along (like a river) on a pilgrimage to reconnect with the ghosts of our ancestors. I sensed the author was laying the groundwork to embrace the memories that hovered between the liminal places in the past and present.

This book is Smith’s debut poetry collection, published by Nightingale and Sparrow Press. The author’s child, Jay Smith, created the book’s cover. I loved the family connections highlighted throughout the book, dedicated to the memory of the author’s mother, Sylvia L. Schreiber. These memories flow through the book, from mother to daughter, onward, ever flowing through the generations.

Smith crafted a variety of forms, including free verse, metered and rhyming verse, syllabic, and prose poetry. Much of this author’s strength resonates in her word-play and vivid imagery.

Smith’s poetry varied, which made this book a most satisfying read. She writes of the historical plight of women at the hands of men, “always men,” ghosts from the past and present, and the inspiration she finds from the stars, and so much more…

But it is the more personal pieces of poetry I found most endearing. The family memories—flowing from mothers to daughters was something that resonated strongly with me.

Through Smith’s eyes, I got a glimpse of the world I had not experienced before. In fact, I read the book twice. But this is a collection of poetry to be read more than once or twice. I know I’ll revisit it often. I think you will too!


➡️ Find Merril D. Smith on her blog: Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings


 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also! Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments if you follow me so I can follow you!

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58 thoughts on “Significant #Poetry Reads, “River Ghosts,” by Merril D. Smith”

    1. Thank you so much, Annette. Merril’s poetry is always so full of meaning. This was a pleasure to read. I bought the paperback copy. I was thrilled when she included a shadorma in the collection. 💛

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        1. Merril, your love and connections to your family (past and present) shine through your words. Another thing I like about your poetry is that it always comes across to me filled with hope and awe at being part of the world. Your imagery, like your photos, is breathtaking!

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  1. I loved this book, Colleen. What a beautiful poet. I’ve started following her blog too, paying closer attention than I have in the past. Her work is stunning. Great review and Congrats to Merril. ❤

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    1. Diana, thanks so much. I feel like I got to know Merril through her poetry. She makes connections in her writing that have inspired me to become a better poet. It’s a lovely view seeing the world through her eyes. I’ve been a fan of her writing for quite a while now. I’m glad you’ve connected with her poetry as well.

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  2. Wonderful review!!! The last paragraph sums everything up beautifully! It is lovely to have a book that one might like to read again and again…it is also lovely to gain new insights into how we see the world around us.

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  3. Merril’s poetry and prose have always delighted me for the depth of her words and connection to virtually – and realistically – everything. Time and space are connected, skies and clouds, immediate and ancestral family, all backdrops for the canvas she paints.

    Thanks Colleen, a lovely review.

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    1. Susan, I wish I could have summed it up as succinctly as you just did. It’s those connections to everything around her that fascinate me. Her poetry is all-encompassing—and emotional. I couldn’t agree more.

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  4. Wooow. I will get this book on my next purchase along with others. I definitely want this one in my collection. Thanks Colleen for your review. Congrats to Merril. I also enjoy reading her lovely poetry and to have a book— well, that’s just like, Wooow! Xoxo


  5. Colleen, this is a wonderful review of an astounding book of poetry. I’ve read it twice. Could haunting ever be warmer or more inviting?

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