Friday, April 12, 2013


I've written many posts about Terence Winch's work, both his poetry and prose and songwriting. See almost any entry for March 17th. He is my dearest friend, but I feel thoroughly justified in saying even if he wasn't I'd be a fan of his work, all of it.

His last book. FALLING OUT OF BED IN A ROOM WITH NO FLOOR (Hanging Loose Press) is one of the best introductions to his poetry you could want. His memoir about his life as a traditional Irish musician (and songwriter) THAT SPECIAL PLACE (Hanging Loose Press) is maybe the best introduction to his prose. But every book of his is worth reading, for my taste, and a lot of other poets' and writers' taste too.

Garrison Keillor has read Terry's poems on NPR many times. His poems have been published in the yearly anthology BEST AMERICAN POETRY several times. His original song WHEN NEW YORK WAS IRISH has been recorded close to thirty times (maybe more than that now) by different groups and individuals and was a hit in Ireland when it first came out and has become the anthem of New York Irish.

His newest book, LIT FROM BELOW (Salmon Poetry), was published in Ireland and consists of ten line poems, a form he came up with, that read and feel like a new kind of sonnet, one where the last four lines are unnecessary. Some still end with rhyming couplets: "Sometimes a piece of paper redolent of perfume/destroys every passing thought in the room" (from "Small Piece of Outbreak"). Terence himself says on the back of the book that the ten-line form "encouraged a definite economy, a terseness, which I think makes them more compact and faster than my four-door, luxury model poems."

Always humorous, even when most deeply serious, or vice versa, Terence's work embodies the human experience more accurately and completely than that of most poets and writers and songwriters. This book is a one off, sui generis, and in that way not the most emblematic of Winch's work, but still worth checking out. I'll leave you with a poem he dedicated to me which uses this ten-line form to great effect, and again, accuracy:

for Michael Lally

At first, the same old disintegrating memories
the significant details of his past, the you know
what I mean.  Not bad for a guy who made himself
out to be excessive, deeply irreplaceable,  the life

Of the party.  The plot is full of revelation.  The forest
remains unchanged.  He laments.  He sees God in a foot
note on sex and blood.  Americanism hangs in the closet
with a suit of old clothes, the green hill just a dream.

The morning sky has a trace of it where he prays.
In the clearing, the right word breaks out across the gap.


tpw said...

Thanks for this, Michael. You are a great friend to have.

JenW said...

Just read Blind Date, The Sacrifice, Off The Map of Love & Recoveries (again) @ Salmon Poetry. I look forward to reading Terence Winch's earlier work too. Love When New York was Irish....Thanks guys-