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Terence Winch

Terence Winch's forthcoming collection of poems is called That Ship Has Sailed, to be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press's legendary Pitt Poetry Series in February 2023.

Here are some responses to the new book:

This book is so wonderful! In That Ship Has Sailed, Terence Winch gives us poems that bow to the relentlessness of time as he navigates world history and personal history. His writing is mature, elegiac, nostalgic, and wry. You'll find wisdom and anti-wisdom (via a villanelle), an especially sonic sonnet, a cento that grows like a flower, and a sestina that dances! Winch steers from operatic gestures to country music to "Poor Country," an exemplary anthem to our troubled nation. That Ship Has Sailed is the perfect getaway for all of us living with uncertainty--"...To master/Life in the present is to be drunk on disbelief." ---Denise Duhamel.

Herein Terence Winch catches us up with his true Irish tuneage of the heart as he heads straight into the gale of being alive, unflinching and unbarred. Weaving a language of merry melancholy, he suspends time’s measurement, folds us into a place where the flesh and blood of a present cohorts with all manner of loves and ghosts of a past and then has a drink with you now. That Ship Has Sailed travels on waters of candid grace. I love this collection so much! ---Maureen Owen

Wit, warmth, style, passion, ingenuity, acumen, and spirit are poetry's seven cardinal virtues. Terence Winch has them all. From the brilliant title poem that opens the book to the "Night Vision" that pulls down the shades at the end, That Ship Has Sailed has the salubrious Winch effect; it makes me want to write poems. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Terence Winch is caviar to the general---be that general Electric or Eisenhower---served with a magnum of Dom Perignon. --David Lehman

To pre-order That Ship Has Sailed click on this link.

Terence Winch's young adult novel called Seeing-Eye Boy, was published by Four Windows Press in October, 2020.

A poet, fiction writer, and musician, Terence Winch is the author of many notable books, including That Special Place: New World Irish Stories, a collection of non-fiction pieces about his life in Irish music. He has published eight poetry collections, among them Irish Musicians/American Friends, an American Book Award winner, and The Great Indoors, winner of the Columbia Book Award. He is also author of a short-story collection called Contenders. His work has appeared widely in numerous journals and anthologies. Seeing-Eye Boy, Winch's first novel, brings to life the Irish immigrant world of 20th-century urban America. The vivid and engrossing story of Matt Coffey offers an inside look at a lost universe, where two cultures---Irish and American---blended together in the new world.

This is what novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff says about the book:

"I can still hear Matt Coffey's voice telling me his strategies for making lunch or owning up to his fears. Wise and wise-cracking, this book is about pride, bravery, loyalty, and love. When word gets out, parents will be sneaking this book off their kids' shelves."

To order Seeing-Eye Boy, click on CONTACT.

Terence Winch's book of poems, The Known Universe, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2018.

Here is what Michael Lally says about the book: "The Known Universe is my new favorite book of poems and should be everyone's. The poems are so brilliantly original they defy labels or comparisons. No one writes poetry like Winch. His distinct voice and artistry let him lament the losses he's experienced while laughing at the ways he does it, or share the joy of life's pleasures while cataloging their disappearance. The author's unique perspective is expressed through litanies, prayers, anti-prayers, traditional forms, untraditional forms, skepticism, jokes, declamations, soulful pleas, love notes, philosophical theories and inquiries, word play, rhyme, near rhyme, off rhyme, no rhyme, meter, anti-meter, confession and deflection, and all with singular intellectual power and insight into life's challenges and rewards." ---Michael Lally

To order The Known Universe, click on CONTACT.

Free Dirt Records & Celtic Thunder Music announce the release of This Day Too: Music from Irish America with Terence Winch, Michael Winch, and Jesse Winch. The new recording features traditional and original songs and tunes from one of the DC area's best-known Irish-American musical families, aided and abetted by 12 friends and fellow musicians from Washington's traditional music community---Patrick Armstrong, Tina Eck, Eileen Estes, Brian Gaffney, Conor Hearn, Seamus Kennedy, Nita Conley Korn, Zan McLeod, Brendan Mulvihill, Connor Murray, Dominick Murray, and Madeline Waters, with a posthumous contribution from Paddy Winch and P. J. Conway. This is the first album featuring new material from Terence Winch---composer of many of the original Celtic Thunder's best-known songs---in almost 10 years.

On the new album:

"A joyful celebration of art and community, this recording is long overdue." ---Mick Moloney

"I love this album!" ---Earle Hitchner

"'Childhood Ground' and the title song represent contemporary Irish-folk writing at its most potent. "This Day Too," which addresses the way we experience the relentless passage of time, won't soon leave your memory, especially if you're of the age when sunset is closer to you than sunrise. ---Jerome Clark,

"This Day Too... is a loving paean to the community that hits the kind of sweet notes that will resonate with many in Irish America. Few on the east coast need to be introduced to the Winches as they've been so involved in Irish cultural expression for so long.... The album's centerpiece is undoubtedly "Childhood Ground," a slow lament that Eileen Estes delivers with great sympathy... This Day Too celebrates Irish-American identity.... It plumbs the memory of a prominent New York Irish family whose formative experiences likely resonate broadly within the Irish American community.... But at the same time, by bringing this experience---and more importantly, the family's music---to life, they speak to a more contemporary sense of Irish Americanness, which is something that gives this album a more thorough sense of 'journey' than might be expected. It's one to check out!" ---Daniel Neely, The Irish Echo

"This recording is not only full of lovely music, it evokes a sense of the kind of community of friends and musicians and makes us wish we could spend time with them, learn their tunes, laugh and cry with them when the songs are sung and poems recited. Terence Winch, acclaimed poet, songwriter and accordionist, his brother Jesse, great bodhran and harmonica player and guitarist, and Terence's son Michael, a strong fiddler, are the heart of this recording.... The composed tunes and traditional tunes are of a kind, lovely ornamented moments in the long sweep of Irish music, the new indistinguishable from the old.... Terence's songs are by turns brilliant and heart-wrenching. .. "Childhood Ground" is powerful and heartbreaking, and "This Day Too" is wistful and rich. ... This is just a wonderful recording." ---Kevin Carr, Fiddler Magazine

Released in 2017.

To order This Day Too, click on CONTACT (available after December 2016)

"Childhood Ground," one of the new songs by Terence Winch on This Day Too, tells the story of the devastating impact that the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway had on many Bronx neighborhoods. This video, featuring Eileen Estes on vocals and piano and Michael Winch on fiddle, brings the song to visual life with photos from the Winch family archives and other sources.


This Way Out (2014, Hanging Loose Press)

From the back cover:

Terence Winch's poems are imaginative, soulful and funny. He writes half way between the everyday and the conjured---his poems often feel like walking into a room made out of the sky. These new poems seem less tethered to reality yet more appreciative of the actual things the world has to give...and take away. This Way Out gives us Terence Winch at the top of his game. ---Bob Hicok

In This Way Out, Terence Winch plumbs mysteries that range from the everyday ("Two Girls," teenagers shinnying down the roof next door) to the enduring ("X-Man," for an illiterate grandfather he never knew), always with an edge of laughter and the call for a stiffer drink. Though Winch has an ear for rhyme, he wears tradition lightly in "Classical Instructions" and "Romantic Poem," before offering a tour de force, "Nightingale, Wish Me Luck," which manipulates the end-rhymes of John Keats himself. Perceptive and subversive, this book has rhetorical marrow, that rich weird greatness at its core. These are the poems you read to your friend at two in the morning. ---Sandra Beasley


Read David McAleavey's essay on This Way Out and Lit from Below in The Innisfree Poetry Journal.

See Michael Lally's post on This Way Out from his blog Lally's Alley.

Check out Doug Lang's extended review (along with several others) on Amazon.

Read Margaret Fedder's review of This Way Out in Foreword.

To order This Way Out, click on CONTACT.


Lit from Below (2013, Salmon Poetry, county Clare, Ireland)

From the back cover:

In these delightful foreshortened sonnets, Terence Winch makes poems that leak with lucent dreams, dissolving midsentence into reversals, somersaults, and whimsy: counterfactuals that are as solid as the band that is your mind playing favorite songs in an old movie. "The crowd exploded. The room cheered." And now back to the poems, already in progress. . . ---Charles Bernstein

See Katherine Sowerby's post on Lit from Below from Magma magazine's blog.

To order Lit from Below, click on CONTACT.


Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor (2011, Hanging Loose Press)
From the back cover:

Whether they arise from the actual or the conceptual, Terence Winch's poems are plugged directly into real experience, and they convey the quiet authority of what is true. He writes with a sure hand and fine sense of the playful slipperiness of language. ---Billy Collins

The title of Terence Winch's newest collection says it all: the wonderfully droll, self-deprecating, hard-hitting and deliciously comic narrator of these poems knows only too well what life exacts from us. A trivial event like losing one's watch and replacing it brings on the rueful recognition that "it ran so fast, / I had to live every day / as if it were tomorrow." It's a dilemma we all face. No rest for the weary! In a sequence of dazzling and poignant memory poems about love and death, friendship and family trauma, Winch once again displays his uncanny ability to take the most ordinary of incidents and endow them with radiance. One reads Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor with a steady shock of recognition. Here WE are! ---Marjorie Perloff


Part satyr, part fierce angel, Winch manages a voice so full of tenderness and delicious drollery that you know you'd be lucky to spend time with this guy in a pub. They say we like other people who make us feel good, who make us laugh, and these are poems that aim to provide the kind of deep enjoyment and entertainment we need. They aim to, and they do: the voice of these poems moves seamlessly through free verse and traditional forms (villanelles and a sestina, even), through the dream-life's nightmares and the real world of public transit, through memory and tomfoolery, wit and despair; the virtue these poems always embrace, however, is camaraderie. You can imagine Whitman enjoying these poems, just as both Billy Collins and Marjorie Perloff have said they do. ---David McAleavey (in an Amazon review)

Terence Winch is a notable American poet. His latest collection, Falling Out of Bed in a Room With No Floor, contains more of his charming, oddball, wonderfully readable poetry. Published by Hanging Loose Press, it's a must read! ---Steve Kowit (in Serving House Journal)

Read David Lehman's piece on the book at The Best American Poetry blog.

Check out Bill Nevins's review in Albuqueque's IQ Local.

For Earle Hitchner's essay on the book, "Poet Terence Winch Pours a Potent 'Fifth'"---go to the Irish Echo [n.b.: end of piece is missing here].

See Michael Lally's post on Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor at Michael's blog, Lally's Alley.

Read Laura Orem's take in the Innisfree Poetry Journal.

To order Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor, click on CONTACT.

Co-founded by Terence Winch, Celtic Thunder played its first gig in May of 1977 at the Harp Pub in Baltimore, and went on to become one of the most influential traditional music groups in the U.S. Called "a great Irish band" by the Village Voice and "one of the best Irish folk acts in America" by The Washington Post, Celtic Thunder has released three albums over the years. The band's second CD, The Light of Other Days, won the prestigious INDIE award for Best Celtic Album. In addition to touring Ireland and playing innumerable concerts, ceilis, and pubs in the U.S., Celtic Thunder also performed at the White House twice during the Clinton administration.

Under no circumstances should the real Celtic Thunder be confused with the PBS t.v. production (and related CDs) that started in 2008, which features a variety of commercial Irish and non-Irish material sung by an assortment of male vocalists and others, collectively calling itself "Celtic Thunder."

Celtic Thunder's three albums are generally available through Amazon and other on-line sources. A compilation of Terry Winch's compositions, featuring many of Celtic Thunder's best-known songs and tunes, is now out. See below for information on ordering the recording, called When New York Was Irish. Meanwhile, a website with information on the recordings and performances of the original Celtic Thunder is now up and running.

Read Laura Orem's post on the sold-out Celtic Thunder concert on 3/16/12 at Baltimore's Patterson Theater.

When New York Was Irish: Songs & Tunes by Terence Winch, Featuring Celtic Thunder & Narrowbacks. The album's 16 tracks showcase Terry Winch's best-known compositions, including "When New York Was Irish," "In Praise of the City of Baltimore," "Hooley with the Herd," "The Best Years of Our Lives," "Saints," and several pieces that have never appeared before on a recording, including "The Irish Riviera." The CD is available from Free Dirt Records (formerly Trade Root Music Group), an excellent distributor of traditional music. See their listing for When New York Was Irish.

  • "Terence Winch is known as a poet and fiction writer, and has penned a bonafide folk hit with When New York Was Irish, the eponymous title track of this album.... The song reminds us that scholars looking for Irish music were searching the wrong places....Winch captures the vibe of Irish-American life in the latter quarter of the 20th century: its jigs, reels, barn dance tunes, stories, and rhythms."
    ---R. Weir, Sing Out!


    Boy Drinkers (2007, Hanging Loose Press---click & scroll down).
    Praise for Boy Drinkers: Here is a new look at the Irish diaspora, where the sound of glasses clinking is as familiar as the smell of incense at a Catholic Mass, where Terence Winch prays, "If the spirit has its own life, let the noises /it makes be as silent as the multiplication / and subtraction of time, and not / the rattle of a cough in the dark." Boy Drinkers looks with sober eyes at the people, tragedies, and traditions that shaped any of us who grew up in a community where alcohol and God were equally able to bring us to our knees. With his musician's ear and Irishman's humor, Terence Winch pokes fun at the Holy, makes sacred the mundane, and redefines the meaning of "grace." ---Meg Kearney

    Terence Winch writes the kind of poems that make you want to kick back and listen, and say to hell with what you were supposed to be doing. These vignettes of growing up Irish Catholic in New York City during the '50s and '60s evoke a world that seems long gone, in many ways with good reason. In a voice that manages to be understated, precise, and casual all at once, Winch exposes us to a set of characters struggling with a world that's changing too fast not only for them, but for anyone. These are poems you'll remember. Clear-eyed, unsentimental, and hilarious, they'll also break your heart. ---Mark Wallace

    Reviews of Boy Drinkers

    • "In Boy Drinkers, Terence Winch continues his compelling record of a time, a place, and a people.... The remarkable thing about Winch's Irish-American writing is that it is radically local and inductive in the sense that Charles Olson preached localism. ...An Irish-American classic." ---Jack Morgan, The Irish Literary Supplement

    • "These witty, narrative poems are light, brave particles of truth." ---John Jacob, Rain Taxi

    • "Vivid..., deft...,subtle, poignant---Few contemporary American poets have built with Winch's skill an entire book around the alienating desolation of a religious faith and working-class poverty." ---Bill Mohr, The New Review of Literature

    • "Terence Winch is a poet and founding member of Celtic Thunder, the storied Irish music group. Boy Drinkers is his mesmerizing new collection of autobiographical poems about growing up Irish-American in the Bronx."---Dylan Foley, The Newark Star-Ledger

    • "Winch's nostalgic new collection about growing up Irish Catholic in New York in the 1950s and 1960s...packs the undeniable punch of memories dragged up and pried away from whatever might have obscured them from view." ---Kevin Nance, Booklist

    • "Winch seamlessly weaves comedy and tragedy, the personal or conversational and the highly lyrical.... What one discovers is a universality of feeling: the pleasure of being admitted to a world of strangers who speak your language."---Anna Ziegler, Smartish Pace magazine.

      To order Boy Drinkers, click on CONTACT.


      Terence Winch's That Special Place: New World Irish Stories is an acclaimed collection of non-fiction stories about Irish music and the musicians who make it, published by Hanging Loose Press.

      About That Special Place: New World Irish Stories

    • "You can see the sights, taste the air, hear the sounds, and smell the atmosphere (no matter how smoky and boozy) in all his stories. A delightful read!" ---Dirty Linen magazine

    • "In That Special Place, Terry Winch reminds us again that he is the voice of Irish America." ---George O'Brien

    • "Terence Winch's work is a joy to read. ...He brings a fiction writer's eye for epiphany to his nonfictional storytelling.... Winch's book is full of the soul's stories, and it will occupy that special place in readers' own memories." ---Earle Hitchner, The Irish Echo

    • "The narratives...focus on the wild, the profane, and the often simply crazy world of the itinerant performer and are often hilarious. That Special Place represents...a vital contribution to Irish American writing." ---Eamonn Wall, The Irish Literary Supplement

    • "A small but powerful collection of stories and lyrics.... The author's compassion for all his characters shines..., as well as his ability to observe and unthread the smallest nuance of human word, emotion, or behavior. Perhaps it's his musician's ability to tie the strings of life together without missing a beat." ---Kathleen Cain, The Bloomsbury Review

    • "In a world of bad writing, I open The Crab Orchard Review and find your wonderful, startling prose. What joy it gave me to read those three stories [later included in That Special Place]. The day will be good because of reading them. I will search out and praise my own Celtic roots and believe that literature is possible."---Ellen Gilchrist [personal letter, 1996]

      Celtic Thunder

      top: Terence Winch, Michael Winch, Jesse Winch; bottom: Dominick Murray, Eileen Estes, Linda Hickman


      Terence Winch received an honorary doctorate and served as the Graduate Commencement Speaker at the graduation ceremonies for Iona College, his alma mater, on May 17, 2014, at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. See the Best American Poetry site for the text of the address, which is entitled "Contentment Is Wealth: The Top Ten Ways to Ultimate Success and Happiness in Life."

      Visit the Irish Inn at Glen Echo, Maryland, every Tuesday night to hear great music (in an informal, session-like setting) from the Irish Inn Mates (Jesse Winch, Tina Eck, Mitch Fanning, and Zan McLeod) with occasional guests, including Terence and Michael Winch. From about 7 pm until 10 pm. See the Irish Inn's site for details.


      Terence Winch is a regular contributor to the Best American Poetry blog--- Check out the BAP blog for his posts about a wide range of subjects---Ted Berrigan, Daniel Cassidy, Eileen Myles, Jamie MacInnes, Elinor Nauen, Patrick Kavanagh, Geoff Young, The Fast Flying Vestibule (the old-timey band TW was part of in the 1970s), Mike Tyson and Oscar Wilde, Ray DiPalma,the poetry of Irish tune titles, Michael Lally, the memorial service for David Franks, the great blizzards of 2010, St. Patrick, the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, David Lehman's book on Jewish composers and Mick Moloney's CD of Irish-Jewish collaborations, actor Michael O'Keefe's poetry, Sherman Alexie, the work of Indian poet Diane Burns, Tim Dlugos, Liam Rector, Elizabeth Sewell, Doug Lang, et al.

      On his influential blog, Mark Wallace provides a generous introduction to Terence Winch's work. Go to Mark's blog for the full text.

      The Innisfree Poetry Journal's inaugural installment of a feature called "A Closer Look," which focuses on the work of one writer, offers a selection of work by Terence Winch. See the Innisfree site.

      See Michael Lally's inimitable blog for his generous remarks on Terence Winch's songs: Lally's Alley.

  • In addition to their publishers' websites, all books and recordings by Terence Winch
    are available through,, and other Internet sources.

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