Praise for A Sun Inside My Chest

Terri Kirby Erickson’s sixth book, dedicated “for love,” is a world I want to live in: generous people, beautiful flowers, birds of every feather, landscapes of mountains and sea, and love of every kind, from passionate romance to family and friends, hawks and owls and herons and clouds and outdoor cathedrals. She is such a fine poet, a shining jewel, a modest woman, and a friend to all mankind and nature. Discovering her in recent years, I have felt young again, to read and write poems, to believe that poets are, as Shelley wrote, “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” In this time of pandemic, we need not only a vaccine, we need a caring community. Terri builds one in A Sun Inside My Chest, where poems about every bird, flower, landscape and individual are near to perfection, a rare gift for a writer in perhaps art’s most difficult genre. There are bountiful lessons for living, right up to the last line, “You are loved.” Terri is my new best poet. —Emily Herring Wilson, author of When I Go Back to My Home Country: A Remembrance of Archie Ammons

Whether it is the urgency of an overturned milking stool or the hiss of pine needles in the wind, each of these poems gleans a truth from the smallest of details. Some are raw and painful, others reassuring and light, but with each, the reader is grateful to see the world through Terri Kirby Erickson’s eyes. —Daren Wang, author of The Hidden Light of Northern Fires

The Sun Inside My Chest is one of those big books, the kind that fling themselves straight into our hearts and wedge there forever among the songs and prayers that sustain us. I can’t think of a better field guide to grief. Or a poet more suited to lead the way than Terri Kirby Erickson, with her devout attention to each moment and imagery that rings so true it is often more real than the thing itself. Her poems resound with a generous wisdom that recognizes elegy is as much a celebration as a mourning, one poem crying “oh, my father who is dying,” while in another “birds/won’t stop singing, and frost looks like glitter/glued to the grass. On and on the sun shines . . . until the door that sorrow slammed shut opens. . .” This powerful book is here, thank goodness, to show us that loss is a catalyst for loving more deeply, and in the dark night of the world, light will find us, whether or not we seek it.—Rhett Iseman Trull, editor of Cave Wall and author of The Real Warnings, winner of the Anhinga Prize for Poetry

Love has always been the guiding force behind Terri Kirby Erickson’s open-armed poems over the years. Yet in this new collection, I felt from the very beginning to the very end, the light of that “sun in her chest” emanating from every line, and warming me even days after I laid down the book with a satisfied sigh. These poems are a pure delight. —James Crews, editor of How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope

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