Welcome, Terrell Jamal Terry!

This month we are featuring the poets and writers who have signed with us since last summer—all writers who submitted work during one of our two annual open reading periods.
Today we bring you Terrell Jamal Terry, whose debut collection Aroma Truce is due out from Black Lawrence Press next summer.

The AuthorIMG_20160225_195337

Terrell Jamal Terry is the author of Aroma Truce, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in summer 2017. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, Washington Square Review, Green Mountains Review, West Branch, Crab Orchard Review, The Volta, cream city review, Columbia Poetry Review, Bettering American Poetry 2015, and elsewhere. He resides in East Pittsburgh.

The Book

Where did you write the book?
Aroma Truce (the anchor and working title) unexpectedly began in Kent, WA in the spring of 2012. The poems were created over a three-year span in Kent/Seattle WA, and Rolesville/Raleigh, NC. It was birthed and grew in many different living situations.
What is your favorite memory from working on this manuscript?
I actually looked forward to the submissions process: selecting a group of poems, sending them off to various destinations and finding out that some of them had found a home. I learned tremendously from many editors and poets. Sometimes there was gold in a short comment. Enough to encourage me to continue to put my work out there. I soon realized that I was entering into a grand conversation. Mostly, I loved being introduced to the unique work of so many gifted poets, as well as the hundreds of intriguing and innovative literary magazines publishing poetry today.
How did you know that the book was done and ready to send out?
I’m somewhat  amazed and perplexed that the collection came together on its own terms. There was a lot of drive and persistence to complete this collection. Ultimately, I had a strong creative need to shape these poems into a tiny universe. Many of the poems still feel magical. Each time I reread the entire collection it is with curiosity and surprise. So many of the poems were written with great intensity, and eventually I was able to slow down a bit and become freshly engaged with my own editing process. Over time, I felt like the manuscript was locked into a very specific orbit and became a book or artifact that I wanted to send to a great publisher. I wanted to claim and share my art.
What’s on your reading list for this summer?
G.C. Waldrep, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Donald Revell, Ocean Vuong, Claudia Keelan, William Fuller, Jamaal May, Julia Cohen, Saeed Jones, Michael Morse, David Dodd Lee, David Keplinger, Mark McMorris, Kristina Marie Darling,  Katie Peterson, Bruce Bond, Dan Beachy-Quick, David Rigsbee, Michael Palmer, Clark Coolidge, Metta Sama, Cynthia Cruz, Charlotte Pence, KMA Sullivan, Martin Corless-Smith, Philip Schaefer & Jeff Whitney, Andre Bagoo, Roger Reeves, Arthur Sze, H.L. Hix,  Norman Dubie, Ronaldo V. Wilson, Sara Nicholson, Sam Sax, Anne Boyer, John Gallaher, Elisa Gabbert, T.J. Jarrett, Mary Biddinger, Adam Clay, Ishion Hutchinson, Kristy Bowen, Phillip B. Williams, Fred Moten, Graham Foust, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Ralph Angel, Thylias Moss…


From the rose field, you smell of wine.
Blood grapes soak your sight.
On these outskirts there is no sprawl.
Dear, what kind of people
are we? You never need to lie. This
reminds me (miniature memory)
of some home long ago. The crumbs
I’ll call my worst were left
west on this Earth spinning to a full
side of sun, laying a forward
order. We take up topics we cannot
comprehend; strange things
about untreated weather. We tie twine
tightly, when that has become
much of what we have. Bridgeless
decades when the curious
grow sadder, stronger, & hypnotically
content with each of our bedside
lamps. The whole room is wounded
wood, our casual feet fit
into a future where the hard-handed
smoke & leather laughter
undress in an otherwise modest home.
There are four plates made
of thick paste & the evaporated
absence of water. My mind sits
in an old black bowl teasing with soft
blueberries. It seems silly,
my nose my ears my eyes can feel
the enchantment of creation
translated by these senses. So I stuff
a lemon blossom into your
tough tangled beard, & then it falls
onto your sticky skin.
Beyond here, the shaken signature
that is the sun leaps across the river.
Before I was a byway for one
I was one to another.
It’s all under a raindrop drone rush
of tar-masked night.
U-turn to the future following,
but not at all. In so many ways
we have disappeared.
Tell the architects of time
we are rebuilding with music.
I draw flower-fog
over a bed of fossils,
what’s left of flesh after death.
Is there a force like what you truly love
or what your own world needs?
I need three pious parks in the heart.
It’s been twenty two hours
& I am still unable to sleep.
Top-heaviness drags thoughts in
& like last guests
they linger—wet leaves clinging.
I’m gliding from the gates of validity,
rearranging one interior until another
is not felt. I’ll crush curses
& sweep the loose ends out
into the cold mute-blue &
monotonous months of winter.
Grab shade, shed & mend how I
broke open into real things,
leather & woodlace. I brushed
hardwire music away from my life,
towards woods to burn
throughout half-painted winters.
I picked the dark glass from my head.
I didn’t enter for politics
or to persuade—how I came here
was the same way as weather,
a bemused breath stain, but liberation
let the bathrooms be clear.
Unfocused wolf-shaped lightning
over the beach air is the sauce.
Turn your head—freshness.
All night walk. Four or five hours
from a bus stop to bedtime
& that feathery pink smell of a KJV’s
barely touched, crisp pages.
I drive my feet dreary. I’ll walk
the round staircase, spin the knob if not
knock the door down.
Obsession bursts, my name naps
raining splinters or else,
what am I doing in super-blue
with these cottony glands?