Authors: Eve Merriam

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American poet and playwright

Author Works

Children’s/Young Adult Literature:

The Real Book About Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1952

The Real Book About Amazing Birds, 1954

The Voice of Liberty: Emma Lazarus, 1959

A Gaggle of Geese, 1960

Mommies at Work, 1961

There Is No Rhyme for Silver, 1962

Funny Town, 1963

What’s in the Middle of a Riddle?, 1963

Inside a Poem, 1964

It Doesn’t Always Have to Rhyme, 1964

What Can You Do with a Pocket?, 1964

Do You Want to See Something?, 1965

Don’t Think About a White Bear, 1965

Small Fry, 1965

The Story of Ben Franklin, 1965

Catch a Little Rhyme, 1966 (part of trilogy with There Is No Rhyme for Silver and It Doesn’t Always Have to Rhyme)

Miss Tibbett’s Typewriter, 1967

Independent Voices, 1968

Finding a Poem, 1970

I Am a Man: Ode to Martin Luther King, Jr., 1971

Project 1-2-3, 1971

Bam! Zam! Boom! A Building Book, 1972

Out Loud, 1973

Rainbow Writing, 1976

Ab to Zogg: A Lexicon for Science-Fiction and Fantasy Readers, 1977

The Birthday Cow, 1978

Unhurry Harry, 1978

A Word or Two with You: New Rhymes for Young Readers, 1981

If Only I Could Tell You: Poems for Young Lovers and Dreamers, 1983

Jamboree: Rhymes for All Times, 1984

Blackberry Ink: Poems, 1985

A Book of Wishes for You, 1985

The Birthday, 1986

The Birthday Door, 1986

Fresh Paint: New Poems, 1986

A Sky Full of Poems, 1986

Halloween ABC, 1987

In the Alligator Attic, 1987

You Be Good and I’ll Be Night: Jump on the Bed Poems, 1988

Chortles: New and Selected Wordplay Poems, 1989

Daddies at Work, 1989

A Poem for a Pickle: Funnybone Verses, 1989

Where Is Everybody?, 1989

The Wise Woman and Her Secret, 1991

Fighting Words, 1992

The Singing Green: New and Selected Poems, 1992

Train Leaves the Station, 1992

Quiet, Please, 1993

Shhh!, 1993

Twelve Ways to Get to Eleven, 1994

Higgle Wiggle: Happy Rhymes, 1994

Bam, Bam, Bam, 1995

What in the World?, 1997

Drama:

Out of Our Father’s House, pr. 1975 (with Paula Wagner and Jack Hofsiss, music by Ruth Crawford Seeger and others; adaptation of the book Growing Up Female in America)

The Club, pr., pb. 1976

Viva Reviva, pr. 1977

Woman Alive: A Conversation Against Death, pr. 1977 (libretto; music by Patsy Rogers)

At Her Age, pr., pb. 1979

The Good Life: Lady Macbeth of Westport, pr. 1979

Dialogue for Lovers: Sonnets of Shakespeare Arranged for Dramatic Presentation, pr. 1980

And I Ain’t Finished Yet, pr. 1981

Plagues for Our Time, pr. 1983 (music by Tom O’Horgan)

Poetry:

Family Circle, 1946

Tomorrow Morning, 1953

Montgomery, Alabama, Money, Mississippi, and Other Places, 1957

The Double Bed from the Feminine Side, 1958

The Trouble with Love, 1960

The Inner City Mother Goose, 1969

The Nixon Poems, 1970

A Husband’s Notes About Her, 1976

Embracing the Dark, 1995

Nonfiction:

Emma Lazarus: Woman with a Torch, 1956

Figleaf: The Business of Being in Fashion, 1960

Basics: An I-Can-Read Book for Grownups, 1962

After Nora Slammed the Door: American Women in the 1960’s–The Unfinished Revolution, 1964

Man and Woman: The Human Condition, 1968

Equality, Identity, and Complementarity: Changing Perspectives of Man and Woman, 1968 (with others; Robert H. Amundson, editor)

Translations:

Animal Tales, 1971 (of Hana Doskocilova)

Christmas, 1971 (of Dick Bruna)

Edited Texts:

Growing Up Female in America: Ten Lives, 1971

Male and Female Under Eighteen: Frank Comments from Young People About Their Sex Roles Today, 1973

Biography

Eve Merriam (MEH-rih-uhm), born Eva Moskovitz, was a noted poet and successful dramatist of the twentieth century. While she is best known for her children’s literature, she also wrote poetry and nonfiction, including feminist works, for adults. She was the daughter of Russian emigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. Her father owned a chain of women’s clothing stores.{$I[A]Merriam, Eve}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Merriam, Eve}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Merriam, Eve}{$I[tim]1916;Merriam, Eve}

From early childhood, Merriam found it hard to stay still when she heard poetry read, and it was only a small step to begin writing poetry herself. After attending Cornell University for two years and earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, she moved to New York to study at Columbia University. She worked as a copywriter and feature editor for fashion magazines as well as writing for radio and moderating a weekly radio program on poetry, and for a few years did free-lance magazine and book writing. When she was unsuccessful in getting her poetry published, a professor suggested that her Jewish surname might be a barrier; she finally agreed to change her name and selected Merriam from seeing the American lexicographer’s name on the dictionary.

While Merriam would go on to gain numerous awards and recognition later in her career, a longed-for goal in the earlier years of her writing came with the Yale Series Younger Poets Award for her first volume of poetry for adults, Family Circle, in 1946. The poet Archibald MacLeish, who wrote an introduction for the book, saw great potential in the poems.

A love of language and of words, wordplay, and the sounds of words lay behind all her poetic endeavors. She was also a champion of justice, as would be evident in much of her work, especially in her adult nonfiction writing. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, Merriam concentrated on two literary genres: poetry for adults, with Tomorrow Morning and Montgomery, Alabama, Money, Mississippi, and Other Places and juvenile nonfiction including biographies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the poet Emma Lazarus, and a book on birds. From the 1960’s until her death in 1992, Merriam’s output was varied. While she would continue to write juvenile poetry, the decade of the 1960’s and 1970’s saw the publication of feminist works such as After Nora Slammed the Door: American Women in the 1960’s–The Unfinished Revolution and Growing Up Female in America: Ten Lives. Also in the 1970’s Merriam ventured successfully into the genre of drama with six plays and an opera. The 1976 play The Club won the Obie Award as well as ten Off-Broadway awards; it continued to be staged throughout the twentieth century.

Merriam was committed to instilling in children the same passion for language, both the words and the sounds, that she herself had. She believed that teachers could help to develop a generation that would appreciate language and one that would read, and perhaps write, poetry. Furthermore, Merriam was deeply concerned with social issues. She felt that issues such as war, racism, pollution, sexism, and television addiction were as relevant to children and youth as to adults, and she was adept at addressing all of these issues at a level appropriate to a given audience. Merriam’s interests were not limited to poetry or to the young. Her wide range of literary output for adults is also noteworthy and includes play writing as well as feminist nonfiction, biography, and poetry.

BibliographyGreen, Carol Hurd, and Mary Grimley Mason, eds. American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. Vol. 5. New York: Unger, 1994. Provides a biographical sketch and a thorough bibliography of Merriam. Discusses her works and identifies some of the themes that run throughout the canon.Senick, Gerard J., ed. Children’s Literature Review. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale, 1988. Contains a biographical profile of Merriam as well as a review of works and awards she received.Sloan, Glenna. “Profile: Eve Merriam.” Language Arts 80 (November/December, 1981): 957-964. Written on a level that middle-school children can read with understanding, the profile focuses on information about Merriam’s home and life. Quotes Merriam about some of her feelings and likes and dislikes. Provides poetry samples that illustrate her advice to teachers of poetry.
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