book jacket image for My Body the Guitar

Get your copy:

From the publisher: Copies of the special edition holograph edition ($22)  from Kenneth Kelbaugh via email.

From the author: Signed copies from the author via email query.

My Body the Guitar

Poems on guitars and guitarists by Karla Linn Merrifield
Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY).

Jimi Redux

I summon Hendrix
the flames of his immolated guitar
him crouching on stage in my imagination
as he did with a can of lighter fluid
over his axe and then striking
                a match

even as I sanitize

fantasizing too Woodstock
                    we stood
to believe in     electrified
his famed Fender Strats

even as I self-

into iconography
a fiery fired poem

even as I curse
this scourge


Jimi would understand
my drop
idiosyncratic     spacing
he loves me
in the time of coronavirus

I wipe the strings
of the Strat in my future
I unplug
    ones I dream
again     again
    smokin’ hot
under waning moon
shining in this orbit
together in music
across time zones
and keys
    and tunings

even as I sing his
anthems     hoping
for a cure


(Originally published in ArtAscent)


My Body the Guitar is a poetry book inspired by guitars, guitarists, and their music. In “Part I, Mere Mortal,” we follow Karla’s learning curve in poems largely spoken to her guitar in a series of “Études.” In “Part II, Local Heroes,” she honors the master guitarists in her inner circle, teachers, lovers, friends, online git pals, glancing encounters, her deceased brother. In “Part III, “Great Gods,” readers encounter Karla’s idiosyncratic pantheon of immortals, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mark Knopfler…and one for Lindsay Buckingham, greatly influenced by your book.

~130 pages; 116 poems

portrait of Karla with her guitar, Boner
Romantic Poetry

In this sublime collection, poet Karla Linn Merrifield rhapsodizes about her beloved guitars as if they were the embodiment of herself, which they are. Transitioning with equal parts insouciance and skill from the memorably indelicate (“slutty thug life”) to the divinely celestial (“archangel arisen on kite strings, sky-ripped”), she decants the breadth of human passion from her heart, from her soul, onto these pages.

– Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick, Author

Sexy as hell. Absolutely fucking loved it.

– Julianne Ingles, Editor Guts Publishing

A masterful blending of story and song, there’s a transcendent quality to My Body the Guitar that goes beyond the words on the page. It’s a musical journey in three parts: obsession and desire, nostalgia and longing, and reverence and prayer. Like a troubadour’s notebook of songs, this creates such depth and vision in this gorgeous and spellbinding book, and one can hear music weaving its way from cover to cover. An emotional and intimate book that will continue to reveal its secrets every time it is read.

– Jenni Brandon, composer of Sisters of the Covid Moon for soprano, bassoon, and piano, 2021

I was impressed by how much Karla knows about guitar masters and the guitars they love, including the intricate makings of an electric guitar itself. “Étude 5-10: Cocooned, Day 56” and “Étude 5-16: Makin’ Do” brought back those long days of the shutdown and not being able to play out in the world, but they also made me smile. I enjoyed revisiting the Met’s Play It Loud exhibit through Karla’s remembrance of its “wall-to-plexiglass-wall of guitar porn” (and I too loved seeing, among other “instrument[s] of devotion,” Clapton’s “Blackie,” from both sides). Karla describes how, on her own guitar, she “began groping for the C major/pentatonic scale from fret 5,” and “began grasping a new pattern/of being along the strings”: I remember that moment of revelation too, when I learned the pentatonic scale and suddenly realized I could play the blues—the basis of most rock and roll. And I can relate to Karla’s naming her Martin “Boner” because I got one myself every time I learned something new on the guitar (and my wife wants me to keep learning). Karla perfectly describes the joy of learning to play and, through it all, to keep on playing.

– George Ott, long-suffering, underappreciated Jersey Shore musician

Life is all about emotions, memories, and meaning. Karla brought and blended these ingredients together with music, guitars, friends, and, above all, a joyful life into an elegant poem shape. It is a privilege to read, at the same time, an intimate love letter and a tribute to all the vibe music brings. What a powerful, joyful, “musicful,” “guitarful” ride!!! We felt so proud and thrilled to read and feel that Karla wanted us all to be part of this… to be part of her life.

– Júlio Martins, Partner, luthier, AVA Guitars, (Portugal)

When reading Karla Linn Merrifield’s poems, I can hear her voice filled with nuances, cadences, and varied tempi. In other words: it is musical! How fitting that she wrote an entire collection of poems about her musical influences and her favorite instrument. Her language is thoughtfully crafted, witty, touching. Buy this book and make sure you go hear Karla read from it!

– Sylvie Beaudette, founder and former director of the Women in Music
Festival, Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY)

In a moment of uncommon lucidness, famed musician Carlos Santana had this to say about the guitar, “The guitar is shaped like a woman, with a neck you hold and a body you hug against yourself. You can touch your fingers up and down the strings, but you have to be delicate and know what you’re doing . . .” Poet Karla Linn Merrifield, exploits and explicates Santana’s erotic reflection in her stunning new collection, My Body the Guitar. Merrifield invites readers to join her on a musical and poetic journey hallmarked by Merrifield’s own unique poetic style. A veteran poet, her work showcases a variety of forms which are distinctive, humorous, transparent, and unapologetically erotic. A singular achievement of this collection is the way the poet streams her knowledge of the instrument’s history and its famous players into her work.

– Michael Escoubas, author of Images: A Collection of Ekphrastic Poetry

An incredible immersive work written from the inside out, learning to play guitar from scratch to dive deeper into poetic Nirvana.!!! A groundbreaking work written with the deepest love of the art. A virtuoso poet at the height of her powers.

– Paul Garthwaite, guitarist, composer, teacher (UK)

Karla Linn Merrifield Images

Get your copy:

From the publisher: Copies of the special edition holograph edition ($22) from Kenneth Kelbaugh via email

From the author: Signed copies from the author via email query.