Joining the Unknown to the Known – Guest Poetry Blog # 13 – Introducing the Latest Contributor, Canadian Poet Terry Ann Carter – Part One of Two


Terry Ann Carter. Photo Credit: Rhonda Ganz

Windy Nights

Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.

Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?
Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea.

By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

Robert Louis Stevenson from A Child’s Garden of Verses, first printed by Longmans, Green & Co, 1885


So pleased to be able to introduce Victoria-based Canadian poet and paper artist Terry Ann Carter and the first of her two guest poetry blog posts. Her second post will feature the Ontario-based Canadian poet Claudia Coutu Radmore.

Terry Ann is no stranger to these pages. I have featured her in two blog posts in 2018 and 2022. To see those posts please click here and here. And she was featured in a post as a paper arts facilitator for my ten-day poetry retreat at the La Romita School of Art, scheduled for June 2020 but cancelled because of Covid. The good news: she is coming back with me to La Romita again to teach her paper arts magic in June 2024.

Word bowl by poet and paper artist Terry Ann Carter

And she is no stranger to the worldwide Haiku community but in particular the Haiku community in North America. She has published many collections of long form poetry, two haiku guidebooks, five haiku chapbooks and edited four haiku anthologies. On her website she features twenty book covers of books she has written, edited or ones that include her poems. From her website: As past president of Haiku Canada, founder of and facilitator for KaDo Ottawa (2001-2012) and Haiku Arbutus Victoria Study Group (2014-present), she has given hundreds of haiku and book arts workshops around the world.

As you will see below Terry Ann is no stranger to writing longer poems. She does not just confine herself to Japanese forms. But the incisive delicacy of her haiku, tanka and haibun are memorable. And I think of the section in her recent  2022 collection First I Fold the Mountain which contains thirteen tanka written in the imagined young adult voice of the celebrated Japanese waka (tanka) poet Ono no Komachi (825-900). This section, Blue Moon, was originally published as Blue Moon – The Ono no Komachi Poems a separate limited edition illustrated chapbook by JackPine Press of Saskatchewan in 2022. Here is a tanka from Blue Moon:

     From my doorway
I see the seaweed gatherer
     doesn't he know
 there is a harvest, here,
      in my arms

The stunning simplicity and yearning in this poem! And the stunning artwork and book design in JackPine’s chapbook designed by Ottawa-based Heather MacDonald. Heather was the Japanese brushwork artist on five ideographs and (with Terry Ann) created the coloured collages facing each poem. This chapbook is one of my most treasured items in my library. It is an outstanding work of art in its own right. This book such a suitable marriage between Terry Ann’s love of poetry and paper art!

While there can be a quiet seriousness to much of Terry Ann’s poetry she has a great wit which shows up as well as in her poem, In Honour of My Visit to Paris, from First I Fold the Mountains. In the poem, to honour her trip, she names her breasts: Gertrude (the larger one)/ and Alice (the  smaller one)…and ends the poem:

And the larger one dreams of salons
plum brandy and writers.

The smaller one imagines
hash brownies.

Such a delight in so many ways to feature the gifted poet and paper artist Terry Ann Carter as my thirteenth guest ploetry blogger.


First, thanks to Richard for the invitation to contribute to the “Recovering Words” poetry blog. I would like to mention how informative these blogs are; knowledge and creative curiosity are attended to with such care, and Richard’s hallmark sense of exuberance is felt throughout.

My introduction to poetry (actually, metaphor) began when I was about nine.That was when I remember my father introduced me to the epigraph poem above, one my father read to me over and over. I can still see his dear face asking me that critical question…Who was the man who was galloping by? THE WIND I would roar…and from that moment realized the power of metaphor. Not just one thing implemented by another, but that whole world of seeing complexity and duality. (To read more on metaphor and its mystical and transformative elements please see the recent blog post in Recovering Words by American poet Todd Davis which I thoroughly enjoyed.)

And here, from Michele Root-Bernstein’s book, Inventing Imaginary Worlds: from Childhood Play to Adult Creativity Across the Arts and Sciences (Roman & Littlefield, 2014) this quote:

Imaginative exploration can be creative, involving composition of languages and codes, the writing of stories and histories, the drawing of pictures and maps, the building of model towns, or the fabrication of make-believe games. In conception and construction, imaginary worlds call forth the mind’s power to join the unknown to the known experience and bring something new and meaningful into existence.

I love Michele’s book; it was a spring board for some poems in my recent poetry collection, First I Fold the Mountain particularly in the section titled “The Unwritten Books”. I also gathered momentum from Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Library of Babel” about books that have yet to be written. This notion set my imagination on fire. Here is a poem from that section from my imagined diary of the virtuoso French American artist Niki de Saint Phalle:

The Alphabet of Tarot
(from the Diary of Niki de Saint Phalle)

All day I have been in my body.
At night – my skull. The architecture
of my mind is a building of letters.
Flying, lying low, on its side

a V represents a bird.
The tarot totems are pulsing
in my veins. I will slash them
to set them free.

A finch has landed on the feeder.
Please come and look. It is
the last rain of spring, and I desire
fire, earth, air, and water.

Major and minor arcana.
When the apricots first bloom
on this Tuscan hillside, my thoughts
turn to kings, the letter F is a fool,

my prince of darkness. The sculptures
will glint golden in sunlight
reflect like pieces of mirror. I will bring
my coffee and converse with Jung.

The letter S is a snake.

Terry Ann Carter from First I Fold the Mountain,  Black Moss Books, 2022

First I Fold The Mountain (my eighth collection of poetry) is a love letter to books: hand made books, books from childhood, the dos-a-dos book, hanging books for the German Dada artist, Kurt Schwitters, and a scroll book composed in the voice of Ono no Komachi (from the ninth century Heian Court of Japan.) Here I could use my imagination to live in other worlds, to write in voices I could only dream about. Here a description of a dos-a-dos book:

“The dos-a-dos, from the French for “back to back” binds two books with one cover case. Although simple in structure, the binding allows the book to be divided into distinct sections, offering the possibility of introducing contrasting or separate material within one book”

Heather Weston (book artist, author, educator.)

This structure was perfect for a section titled “Night Orchids – Husband/Wife” where I composed poems in the voice of a wife and a husband, struggling with illness. These poems are based upon my own experience, and the closest I’ve come to writing about my husband’s illness and death. From the subsection “Wife”:

Bloodgood Maples in the Japanese Garden Outside the Dialysis Clinic
(after Elizabeth Bishop)

It is difficult to bless the young nephrology
nurse, the inexperienced one. The one
who checks the dialyser infrequently.

Allows the body’s fluids to overrun.
By her hand, the nurse who is not practiced
makes mistakes. As though her patient

has no history. No knowledge of the secret
places. No honeycombed desire.
As though her patient cannot speak.

On a day when the maple leaves outside
the clinic are rimmed with rain, it is difficult
to bless the girlish nurse in pink lipstick

who indirectly mixes “dry weight” and “wet
weight.” Who causes pain in skin so delicate
to touch, pockmarked like an addict’s arm.

Terr Ann Carter, ibid

(Note: “dry weight” and “wet weight” are terms that are used for the dialysis patient before and after treatment.)

And you can only imagine my surprise when I learned the botanical name for the Japanese maples growing outside the clinic….bloodgood….yes, bloodgood maples. Only a poet would be gobsmacked for months about this cosmic connection.)

And from the subsection “Husband”:

How You Call It

Memory persistent as a tick
burrows beneath my skin

or what I know of the salamander,
mythic creature, surviving fire.

Don’t call it my choice.
Some things can’t be crushed.

Tragikos/tragos meaning
tragic and goat.

Life a perspective
depending on which side of the fence

you sit on.
Shit happens, my neighbour says

when the fencepost cracks
rendering three weeks of labour

useless. Yeah. Shit happens.
My goddam Jays losing again.

Shitter and shittee
those Greeks have a name for everything.

It seems as though metaphor and imagination have been the building blocks for much of my poetry. And on those windy nights…yes…you guessed it…I still hear that man on his horse “gallop and gallop and gallop about”.

Terry Ann Carter, April, 2023


  1. Diana Saltoon
    Posted April 30, 2023 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Terry Ann Carter is a treasure. Her poems glimmer and shine and flow like smooth water in a stream of beauty, poignancy, with hidden depths of beneath the emotions that move us as we experience the love, pathos, joy and lightness of heart and movements in the poems she shares. And yes of “the wind” and “the man on the horse galloping and galloping about..” THANK YOU, TERRY ANN!

  2. Richard Osler
    Posted May 10, 2023 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for reading TA’s post!

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