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Lit from Below

Terence Winch

ISBN: 978-1-908836-49-6

Page Count: 104

Publication Date: Friday, February 15, 2013

Cover Artwork: © Laurin Rinder | Dreamstime.com

Click to play audio Terence Winch reads 'Blind Date' from Lit from Bel... play
Click to play audio Terence Winch reads 'The Sacrifice' from Lit from ... play

About this Book

In these delightful foreshortened sonnets, Terence Winch makes poems that leak with lucent dreams, dissolving midsentence into reversals, somersaults, and whimsy: counterfactuals that are as solid as the band that is your mind playing favorite songs in an old movie. “The crowd exploded.  The room cheered.” And now back to the poems, already in progress …   Charles Bernstein

The writing of the poems in Lit from Below began in the early ’90s when Ray DiPalma, then often associated with the Language poetry movement, invited Terence Winch to contribute a chapbook to a series DiPalma was then publishing. Winch wrote ten ten-line poems, liked writing them, and kept at it long after the publication came out. Since then, many of the subsequent poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals. These poems, which are mostly uncharacteristic of Winch’s work, became an on-going writing project that, he says, “felt more like play to me than work, but I’ve always believed that creativity and play are symbiotic.” 

The poems, which started out experimenting with referentiality and linearity, became somewhat less unconventional over the course of time.  Winch says that “the confines of a ten-line block make the poems feel like little word-houses in which many different approaches—from narrative, to surreal, to autotelic—may reside, alone or together. The structure also encouraged a definite economy, a terseness, which I think makes them more compact and faster than my four-door, luxury model poems.” 


Author Biography

Terence Winch has published five earlier books of poems—Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor (Hanging Loose Press, 2011), Boy Drinkers (Hanging Loose, 2007), The Drift of Things (The Figures, 2001), Irish Musicians/American Friends (Coffee House Press, 1986), which won an American Book Award, and The Great Indoors (Story Line Press, 1995), which won the Columbia Book Award.  That Special Place: New World Irish Stories (Hanging Loose, 2004) is a collection of non-fiction pieces on his experiences playing traditional Irish music. He has also published a book of short stories called Contenders (Story Line, 1989) and numerous chapbooks.  His work has appeared in more than 30 anthologies, including The Oxford Book of American Poetry (2006), Poetry 180 (2003), Best American Poetry (1997, 2003, 2007; 2010), and in such publications as The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, New American Writing, Conduit, Magma (UK), The New Republic, Shiny, Verse, Smartish Pace, et al. He was the subject of a profile on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and has been featured many times on Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac” radio program. He has received an NEA Fellowship in poetry, as well as grants from the DC Commission on the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Fund for Poetry.  He is also the winner of a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing. See www.terencewinch.com


Read a sample from this book

Blind Date


Ask yourself whether you are crying because 

it is always raining in the vicinity of the library

or because there is a very scary allegory of torment

staggering out of the bar and heading for you


I wish you didn’t feel compelled to spray everyone 

at the gallery with the aerosol version of Wordworth’s 

Prelude or pixelate their emotions into tiny red balloons

of melancholia, which you know causes weight gain


My ungratefulness is as big as one impossible parking space

on Saturday night when we detonate the metaphor just for laughs





The Sacrifice


The crowd exploded.  The room cheered.

The moon made its rulings stick.  The stick

struck against the necessity of  argument.

The argument held the impossibility of salvation

outside the delights of the great forest of  long hair.


My wife and I danced on a stack of fresh tortillas.

We moved on to the river of supply boats and obscene

counter attacks in new underwear and clothing.

False articles of faith fogged the new dawn.

Survivors dumped the headline on the dark lawn.


                                         
 
Recoveries
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.




Off the Map of Love


Everything can be explained by contextualisms.

Everyone has to give something up. Time. Space. Old clothes.

History tells us about the meaning of love, which is the sun 

of human emotion.  We pour it over our thirsty memories.


A few kisses, a few embraces.  Stealing each other’s favorite cereal

at midnight. The dust settles, things pile up on the floor next to the bed. 

Thank you for the bushes, trees, plants, your back-up piano work.

I put everything into a box and then put that into a bigger box.

We are ridiculous.  You say typography, I say geography.

I pull the shades shut.  You record all the silences on our old recordings.  


Poems Copyright © Terence Winch 2013


Reviews

Review: Lit from Below reviewed by Kathrine Sowerby for Magma, May 27, 2014

Believing that ‘creativity and play are symbiotic’, Lit from Below, Terence Winch’s sixth collection, grew from an invitation in the early 90’s from poet and visual artist Ray di Palma, often associated with the Language poetry movement, to contribute a chapbook to a series he was publishing. Winch responded by writing ten-line poems, ‘foreshortened sonnets’ he describes as ‘little word-houses’.

An Irish-American poet, writer and musician, Winch grew up in the Bronx, New York, but moved to Washington DC to play music where he became involved in the ‘Mass Transit Readings’ and the poems in Lit from Below are plotted in time and place with cultural references.

    My release mechanism cannot be compared to Madonna
    Tina Turner, Hulk Hogan, or Willem de Kooning.
    They swim about, lashing their tails in the aquamarine pools
    of a mythic past that mocks the Beach Boys where they live.

['In Retaliation against']

Collections in which the form or concept is a given, I’m thinking of the recent Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts and Sam Riviere’s 81 Austerities, provide a narrative in the knowledge that the next poem is going to be related to the former by length or concept and, like Drysalter and 81 Austerities, I found myself reading the 90 poems in Lit from Below in sequence, from beginning to end. The effect of the poems is cumulative and a complex combination of celebration and satire but behind an, at times, sardonic tone is an honesty that reminded me of poems by Richard Brautigan.

    I wish you didn’t feel compelled to spray everyone
    at the gallery with the aerosol version of Wordsworth’s
    Prelude or pixelate their emotions into tiny red balloons
    of melancholia, which you know causes weight gain

['Blind Date']

Said to be uncharacteristic of Winch’s other work, the poems in Lit from Below are economical and, at times, surreal. I found myself on train journeys, as the poems merged into one another like tracks on an album, picking out individual lines like “My wife and I danced on a stack of fresh tortillas” from ‘The Sacrifice’ or in ‘A Marvellous Feeling of Air’: “Your black potato is jammed inside the minibar”. But slow down and the poems are vulnerable relationship studies, broken and whole,

    Everything can be explained by contextualisms.
    Everyone has to give something up. Time. Space. Old clothes.
    History tells us about the meaning of love, which is the sun
    of human emotion. We pour it over our thirsty memories.

['Off the Map of Love']

and, alongside the absurd, there is pathos in Winch’s observations of everyday life and a deeper sense of being that I think can emerge from constraints placed on the writing process.

    At the end of our lives, each of us is highly visible to motorists
    at night as we switch from one side to the other.
    The result of our measurements and experiments led
    to our Special Theory of the Futility of Gestures and Attitudes.

['Credentials You Can Trust']

What lifts the collection are moments of terse humour and plain language that invite the reader in to play.

    God is asleep, and I have great hair
    for a man my age, don’t you think?
    There is a woman in mink eating
    an apple in the lounge. She is catastrophic.

['Post-Spatial Society']

Lit from Below is a collection to read without question and let its juxtapositions wash over you, like reading John Ashbery, then go back and take your time with it. And look up Terence Winch on youtube and listen. Once you get the depth of his voice you will read the poems in a new light, or perhaps dark.

    (Opposite) High-definition 3-D mock-ups of man on bed
    were once thought to prove that amazing things can and do happen.

['Captions']

Kathrine Sowerby received a 2012/13 New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust. She co-edits fourfold, a curated poetry journal.

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