David Merritt is a former student newspaper editor, university lecturer and one-time band manager for Flying Nun Records. The self-described bohemian poet has found notoriety in recent years for his ‘residency’ on the streets, in cafes and bookshops of Auckland and Wellington. Accompanied by a banana box filled with his collaged poetry, some of which he has ‘flogged’ to Elam library in a used pizza box, Merritt passes his time conversing with locals, drinking coffee and crafting more books, some of which he sells or gives away.
His collection of upcycled ‘poemettes’ form the basis of a David Merritt Poetry Experience – they're basically toast shaped books constructed from banana boxes, glue and printed words cut from old copies of Reader’s Digest. It's material he describes as “destined for the landfill” and “the detritus of established publishing”.
The man has a shrewd sense of humour, which is easily detectable through his poetry, posts on social media and interaction with the audience. Merritt chooses what selection of thoughts and poemettes he reads based on ‘audience feedback and my own perverse sense of mood and appropriateness, not too many sad poems in a row, be funny but not all the time, wistful, humane, angry—whatever”.