Publication Date:  August 1, 2020
Paperback, 120 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-70-0

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$22.95 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below
Philip Terman
is the author of five
full-length and four
chapbook collections of
poems, including, most
Our Portion:
New and Selected Poems

(Autumn House Press)
Like a Bird Entering
a Window
and Leaving Through
Another Window
, a
hand-sewn collaboration
with the artist James
Stewart and bookbinder
Susan Frakes. His poems
Philip Terman’s latest poetry collection begins appropriately enough with “Tormented
Meshuggenehs,” “the crazy sages… / who dervished across the hayfields / and paused
to yawp a parable to the cows about the seven beggars….” This passage announces
much about the poetry that follows: that its craziness is of the order of devotion in the
spiritual sense, rooted in Judaism; and also that it often takes place in bucolic
surroundings, rooted in the land.  And why is this a little surprising, this conjunction
of Jewish life and rural setting? For Terman they are seamless and sacred, and by
portraying his Jewishness as woven through a life and landscape familiar to many
(non-Jewish) readers, he dispels stereotypes and creates a community of mutual
recognition and understanding.

That would be virtue enough to applaud this collection, but it offers many other
pleasures.  “I am talking about this world, there is no other,” he declares in the long
and lovely meditative “Garden Chronicle” that forms the final section of the book.
Such a world it is, full of all of the things to which he is crazily devoted, all of the
things he writes about with such acuity and tenderness in these poems: heritage and
faith, social justice, poetry, even (in the title poem) almost meeting Bob Dylan – but
foremost, his family and nature, both of which sustain him.  

He communes with ancestors, a grandfather he was too young to remember, who must
have sung to him over his cradle in Yiddish (and who, he supposes, just might have
posed for Chagall). He imagines the radio interview his father might have given,
replete with Borscht Belt humor, and recalls going for bagels with “
the schlemiel… /
who dated your sister-in-law / after your brother died
.”  He devotes the second
section, “Of Longing and Chutzpah,” to memories of his mother, and in one of the
most humorous and poignant moments recalls how in childhood his mother cut his
hair to save money, an act Terman likens to “sculpting” him into all the things she
might have wished him to be, “the boy she wants to be a mensch.” (Based on the
accounting he gives here, she succeeded. She also carved out a considerable poet.)

Most of all, he writes of “The love of the long married,” of children “at the kitchen
table / doing homework,” waiting on a school bus which arrives bearing all the hopes
and happiness in the world. He gives the last word to the daughter whose question
After Later? signifies “no set time, farther than the horizon, / on top of the sky,
around the bend, outside this moment we’re in” when, perhaps, “all those things they
said would happen / must surely have occurred.” Such a lovely description of faith,
so worthy of devotion.

Praise for Philip Terman & This Crazy Devotion

Traveling between Li Po and Chagall, between Aleppo and Pennsylvania, Philip
Terman wants only one thing. What is it? He wants to grab each person he meets and
shout: stay awake. Which is to say: Terman wants to share with us the ecstatics of our

  And at the heart of it all is what, exactly?

  I find here deep emotion. Such as in the elegies for the poet's mother, which are
memorable, and heart-breaking, and very real.

And around them go the devotions: between hospice patient wanting to write poetry
and Larry Levis the grandmaster poet whose work continues to speak long after death.
For devotions are in each of our moments, as these moments themselves become
speech of days between parents and children, between Depression streets of Jewish
Cleveland and Heaven.

  These are moving, beautiful poems from the writer who knows how to live the days
with his whole self, and how to put such days into words.

                                                                 —Ilya Kaminsky, author of
Deaf Republic

Philip Terman’s poetry is suffused with love—for his wife and daughters, for their
garden and the creatures who share their land, for his parents and grandparents and
his Jewish heritage, for prisoners and refugees, for the gifted and the grieving. To
write of such matters, he tells us, he must temporarily withdraw into solitude, “so that
I can meditate on our lives / and frame something beautiful.” There is abundant
beauty here, as much in the framing of these stirring poems as in the earthy, mystical
matters of which he writes.
                                                          —Scott Russell Sanders, author of
Earth Works

Philip Terman takes us down “into / the wonder-hole” in this deeply elegiac
collection. His austere tributes to the mother and the long dead, and to shuttered
neighborhoods and ravaged Earth, stand beside homages to Larry Levis, to the Syrian
poet Riad Saleh Hussein, and, in lovely portraits of desk, kitchen, and garden. The
“wonder-hole’s” unique entry point into grave, soul-ash, and cosmos causes tremors
throughout the book, working its magic in the unforgettable “The Exchange” and
“Coda: put the book aside in the middle of the poem” and in poems examining
fearsome yet seductive shadows of aging, parenting, and loving. Terman’s signature
“serious sentimentality” is here too, in sparkling intermezzo: flowers and birdsong
                                                        —Judith Vollmer author of
The Apollonia Poems
Poems by
Philip Terman
Cover artwork by James Stewart, used by permission
Author photo by Bella Terman
and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Poetry
, The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, The Sun Magazine, Poetry
, Extraordinary Rendition: American Writers on Palestine, and 99
Poems for the 99 Percent
.  A selection of his poems, My Dear Friend Kafka, has
been translated into Arabic by the Syrian writer and translator Saleh Razzouk and
published by Ninwa Press in Damascus, Syria.  He’s a professor of English at Clarion
University, where he directs the Spoken Art Reading Series. He is a co-founder of the
Chautauqua Writer’s Festival and coordinator of The Bridge Literary and Arts Center
in Franklin, PA. Terman’s poems provided the text for three song cycles composed by
Dr. Brent Register and, on occasion, he performs his poetry with the jazz band, Mark
DeWalt and The Barkeyville Triangle. More information can be found at