Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton is the author of six books. Of her most recent, the poetry collection Shadow and Praise (Main Street Rag 2007), poet Gerald Locklin wrote, “These poems vibrate with controlled breathing, like American mantras infused with Eastern scriptural spirituality. I have the highest admiration for this achievement by a poet and human being who has spent a lifetime in preparation for such a crowning achievement.” Embers (Red Hen 2003) is a novel-in-poems about which poet Anne Waldman has said, “This book is a commitment to the beauties and scintillating particulars of a generous language. This is a tremendous weave of site and humanity.” Embers was a finalist for the PEN USA Litfest Poetry Award and the Lambda Book Award. Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman’s Building, a memoir published in 2002 by City Lights Books, was named one of the Best Books of 2002 by the Los Angeles Times, and was the winner of the 2003 Publisher’s Triangle Judy Grahn Award, and a finalist for the Lambda Book Award. Her novel, Bailey’s Beads, was a finalist in the American Library Association’s Gay and Lesbian Book Awards for 1997; Kirkus Reviews said of it, “Her ambitious debut features a stark but melodious prose style, confident style, and affecting characters.” She has also published two other collections of poetry: Black Slip (Clothespin Fever Press 1992), a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in 1993, and Mystery Bruise (Red Hen 1999). Spinsters Ink will publish her new novel, The Labrys Reunion, in 2009 and Stealing Angel in 2010. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and drama have been published in periodicals internationally, including Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, Glimmer Train Stories, The Stinging Fly, and Zyzzyva, and widely anthologized.

She has also edited several successful compilations, including Harbinger: Poetry and Fiction by Los Angeles Writers; Indivisible: Short Fiction by West Coast Gay and Lesbian Writers; Blood Whispers: L.A. Writers on AIDS, Volumes 1 and 2; the Lambda Literary Award-winning His: Brilliant New Fiction by Gay Men and Hers: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbians, volumes 1, 2, and 3; the series Circa 2000: Lesbian Fiction at the Millennium and Gay Fiction at the Millennium; and the poetry anthology, Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies. Most recently, she co-edited, with Sondra Hale, the anthology From Site to Vision: The Woman’s Building in Contemporary Culture, published on the internet at www.womansbuilding.org/fromsittovision.

In 2000, she began collaborating as a writer with choreographer Heidi Duckler and Collage Dance Theater on the site-specific performances subVersions, Under Eden, After Eden, and Cover Story. She is currently collaborating with composer David Ornette Cherry on adapting Embers as a jazz opera.

Terry has taught creative writing for over twenty-five years. In 1997, she founded Writers at Work, a center for creative writing in Los Angeles, where she offers several weekly workshops in fiction and poetry. She is currently an associate faculty mentor for the MFA writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She spent thirteen years at the Woman’s Building, a public center for women’s culture, eventually serving as its executive director. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her artistic and community contributions, most recently, a California Arts Council Artist Fellowship for Poetry and a COLA Fellowship from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

She is also a certified instructor of Kundalini Yoga.

All Books

Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies

Terry Wolverton

Publication Date: March 1, 2004

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 1-888996-17-X


What happens when one hundred poets from across the country all follow the same “recipe” for creating a poem? If you think the result is one hundred identical poems, then you haven’t seen Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies, a new anthology edited by Terry Wolverton from Red Hen Press.

The collection includes nationally recognized poets such as Michael Waters and Richard Garcia, Los Angeles notables such as Alicia Vogl Saenz and Jim Natal, poets from Canada, Mexico, and India, and a twelve-year-old and eight-year-old—all writing in response to the same set of instructions. The “recipe,” called the Twenty Little Poetry Projects, was devised by poet Jim Simmerman and first made its nationwide debut in The Practice of Poetry, a 1992 collection edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twitchell. Simmerman devised the exercise, he says, to encourage his poetry students to explore “free-for-all wackiness, inventive play, and the sheer oddities of language itself.”

“Too many poems,” asserts Terry Wolverton, “suffer for their earnestness, an overabundance of sincerity, which sometimes means you tell the reader what they already know. A good poem shows the reader something new, and to do that, sometimes the poet needs to think differently.” Wolverton, an instructor of creative writing herself and founder of Writers At Work, a writing center in Los Angeles, has long used the Twenty Little Poetry Projects herself to “disrupt whatever habits one may be in with regard to writing poems.” The result is a poem in which “the journey to arrive at the content is unexpected, entertaining, and provocative.” She predicts that students will have a great time with the book, which will demonstrate that “poems can be playful and serious at the same time.”


Terry Wolverton

Publication Date: August 1, 2003

$15.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-888996-72-2


“In voice-rich, era-evoking poetry, this autobiographical novel-in-poems spans a century in the life of one broken, fierce, incendiary family. A mosaic of thwarted dreams and tangled loyalties, Embers is nevertheless always awake to the twin redemptive potentials of grief and recognition. Wolverton unerringly captures the moment when events stamp a character in such a way that decides the course not only of his or her own life, but all the lives they in turn create, resolving in the poet’s own. Beginning with Huron tribal mythology and ranging through Detroit’s salt-city frontier days and, in a particularly stunning suite of poems, its more recent and no less violent urban history, Embers creates an unforgettable portrait of a century, and a city, and a family struggling toward wholeness.”—Janet Fitch, author, White Oleander

Mystery Bruise

Terry Wolverton

Publication Date: September 1, 1999

$9.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 1-888996-14-5


“Like the mystery bruise of the title poem, these memento mori are livid imprints left behind by collisions with life, tattooed reminders of emotional confrontations. But Terry Wolverton is a survivor of her deep passions. Her heart beats on despite its contusions and pulses underneath the corpus of her experience like a wellspring of life under the painful intimations of mortality. This is a remarkable body of work.”—Michael Lassell, author of A Flame for the Touch That Matters

“Terry Wolverton’s passionate achievement crackles with unsparing revelations from the dark side of the American Dream—epidemics, urban unrest, and a girlhood which might have been conjured in the imagination of Norman Rockwell’s diabolical twin. Into this end-of-the-century landscape, peopled by casualties, survivors, and warriors, she direcfts the manifold redeeming powers of poetry: to bear witness, to exorcise, to shore up—and hold fast among us—memories of those lost.”—Suzanne Lummis, author of In Danger

“In Mystery Bruise, poems of loss and troubled adolescence give way to songs of healing and self-assertiveness. Terry Wolverton looks us straight in the eye, channels raw experience into lean columns, staunch forms. Her poems sting with the truth, the toxic times we live in, yet offer hope, instruct us how to reshape who we are.”—David Trinidad, author of Answer Song