Terry Marvin Gresham Under a Toenail Moon

ISBN 13: 9781502794819

Under a Toenail Moon

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9781502794819: Under a Toenail Moon

And when I met with Terry the other night to discuss how awesome I think he is, he told me that I am right about that. He said that back then when he first started going to the poetry reading, he could see it "needed livening up a little bit." At those readings, he says, laughing, "You had to have so much meaning.
You know, your heart had to be, like--out there." What he was trying to do with his poetry was something different from what he was hearing, something that got away from sentimentality--" or even feeling," he said, not necessarily referring to the efforts I made back then. Or, for that matter, the efforts I make now to be deep and feelingful. "Well, it's not that that's not good poetry," he says. "You know, I'm a ham, anyway. When you're out in public, it ought to be a little entertaining."
       Humor is an important element to Terry's work and one of the ways he forms a connection with his audience and opens them up. For instance, in "My Dream and  Me," the speaker dreams of a world from which "all / idiots had vanished." The world seems to be a better place:
"There were celebrations. / People liked it."
But the speaker is glad it is only a dream because he cannot find himself in that world. He has vanished with the other idiots. A lot of Terry's poems work this way--they comment in some way on human nature using humor and some self-deprecation. And the poems ring true, in part, because he so easily and deliberately reveals himself behind the words but, perhaps more importantly, because he reveals the reader, too. As members of his audience at a reading, we can often literally see ourselves in his work, as he lists John Morris, Rob and Weyodi Duncan, Sam McMichael and other regular attendees among his influences, along with Joy Harjo, John Lennon, and Steve Allen. 
       Another special connection Terry has with his audience at the readings is that much of his inspiration comes from what he hears and sees here in Lawton. Sitting at Hoffman's one night, he hears the bartender say, "It's way after midnight, baby!" Or driving down 11th street, he sees a balloonless ribbon tied to a fence. And these things he makes into poetry. So some of the laughter you will hear when Terry is reading is not a response to a funny line or idea, but a plain expression of delight in shared experiences--if only in the shared experience of the poem. Terry Gresham reads his poetry as if he is discovering it for the first time. He laughs at some of his lines. He sometimes stumbles because he is unable to read the new lines or revisions  7 he's scribbled onto the page just before getting up to read. He clearly loves words and the act of composing. He loves reading, and his delight is contagious. As we talked, the other night, Terry recited some lines from a poem called "d'Ordinare" (ordinary things sound more interesting in French, he says):
"One day, I would like to be like a song
and I want Annie Lennox to sing me.
I would love to be notable like that."

The lines, I think, are beautiful--sweet and surprising. And what made them even more charming was the way he laughed after every one of them. Terry Gresham's poetry is always surprising and always delightful. He works to pleasantly unsettle the audience from any expectations we might have. He says, "I try to think of the words on the page as not being the most important thing about the piece. Like a DNA or a protein molecule that has a primary structure (words) a secondary structure (words folding upon other words) and a tertiary structure (how the poem coils even further around due to its environment) I like to have the poem doing biology and somersaults. I like to have the poem doing things that it shouldn't." - Teri McGrath

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From the Author:

Contact: 801 NW Dearborn, Lawton, Oklahoma, 73507

About the Author:

Terry Gresham lives in Oklahoma with his wife and three cats. He has published two books of poetry: Under a Toenail Moon and soon to be released Dark Sandwiches. He has been published in the Cybersoliel Literary Journal and the Dragon Poet Review.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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