Minnesota Book Award-winning poet Richard Terrill is back with a new collection of poetic “conversations” with the work and wisdom of Walt Whitman, Diane Arbus, Miles Davis, Groucho Marx, and more. Tai qi, classic movies, environmental angst, and the inexorable passage of time are among the subjects the poems consider—along with Terrill’s signature subject, music, especially the blue nights and blue notes of jazz. Terrill borrows language and image from his sources and handles it with care. Here is a blend of humor and pathos, of light and of dark, that revels in its contradictions and conundrums. The pages of What Falls Away Is Always will provoke, delight, and surprise.
"There is a line in this collection, 'the bridge to the island of seeing,' that primes its well-founded concerns and tender appreciations. The repeating nods here are to jazz and poetry and the bridge between the two—with whatever resulting high seriousness mitigated by a fully realized underscoring of thoughtful and beguiling humor ('it’s Unhappy Hour:/drinks one for the price of two'). The collection ends on a tour de force sequence of poems, forging a compelling understanding of jazz and music with a juxtaposition to living our lives inside our lives. Blossom Dearie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis—so many have been sitting in the audience of these poems as they sang and played in a place where 'all the other tables, all the sidewalks and the thoroughfare/are not so much empty as filled with space.' That space is the bridge, both musical and physical, and it is everything."--Alberto Rios, Arizona State Poet Laureate; Board of Chancellors, Academy of American Poets
"The best poems in What Falls Away Is Always are built with the details of ordinary moments, like walking the dog or playing cards, but cast those details in a new and different light. This is also where we find Richard Terrill’s characters at their most vulnerable. His speaker is perceptive, and succeeds in being blunt and comforting at the same time--not an easy thing to do. The poet is there with us, though, writing of the time when you find 'one day, the house of your life finally quiet.' It’s in the rooms of this house Terrill has built that I find it possible to see myself as well, which is what great poetry does."--Michael Torres, author of An Incomplete List of Names, National Poetry Series Winner
"Reading Richard Terrill’s new collection is a lot like listening to him play saxophone at a jazz club somewhere in Minneapolis. We find ourselves in a richly allusive world, in a conversation filled with other versions of our time, other pieces of art, film, music, and poetry, from Roethke to the gas pumps and mannequins in an Edward Hopper painting. There are poems about playing the standards and about movies we think we’ve seen but haven’t. It’s a smart and savvy book, with moments when the roof lifts a little with revelation. You never know when it’s going to happen, but if you just lean back in your chair and listen, he’ll tell something 'so beautiful / you’ll miss your train.'" ---Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota State Poet Laureate