Jacksonville, FL, US
At 22, Billy Merrell is the youngest author to date published by the Push Imprint of Scholastic Inc. Merrell, who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, began writing poetry around eighth grade. He had a better grasp of rhyme and meter than the other students in his classes, and as a result, the teacher began giving him more challenging poetry assignments rather than less expressive work. It wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that Merrell began to write about his own feelings, and recognized writing poetry as a liberating activity.
Merrell is recent graduate of the University of Florida with a B.A. in English. One summer earlier in his college career, Merrell was hired as the first PUSH Writing Intern. During this summer internship, Merrell came to New York City and began work on his first book. The culmination of his work with PUSH is talking in the dark, a memoir composed of poetry that documents a story of growing up, coming out and exploring love. As a gay man himself, Merrell sought to write a book that he felt could have been of use to him as a teenage boy coming out. It is “an affecting memoir told in verse, this work launches a promising young poet..., [Merrell’s] sophisticated verse and compelling story will capture attention as it stirs compassion.” —School Library Journal