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cover The Dropped Hand

The Whisk and Whir of Wings, The Ridgeway Press, 2016


cover The Dropped Hand

To Light a Fire, Wayne State University Press, 2015

cover The Dropped Hand

The Light Between, Wayne State University Press, 2012

cover The Dropped Hand

The Dropped Hand, Lotus Press, 2012

Escape Artist, BKMK Press, 2003

cover_Body & Field

Body & Field, Michigan State University Press, 1999






The Whisk and Whir of Wings  

An avid birder as well as an accomplished poet, Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellow Terry Blackhawk has selected favorite "bird poems" from her four previous volumes and collected them in The Whisk and Whir of Wings. Grounded in hours of observation, work as an Audubon volunteer, and encounter with the natural world, the poems explore boundaries between the ecological and the psychological. As they travel from backyard to mountainsides, they invite the reader to join in pursuit of the hidden, the wild, the edge of language, what is beyond the frame. Ecstatic or meditative, watchful or wry, Terry Blackhawk's voice owes something to both Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop. This new collection celebrates the acceptance of change but also fulfills the human need for "perch and purchase." The "whisk and whir" of these poems' memorable music take us to swamp and woodland, beach and river, Ecuador, Detroit, Key West, into the heart of loss, memory, and love-wherever wing beats "exalt" or "disturb" our air.

There’s a thing birds do.  An unrehearsed avian collective’s lift and simultaneous midair maneuvers that sweep and flow like a movie sound track, or waft like a feather scarf on wind billows.  It is joyful and marvelous to behold, as are Terry Blackhawk’s bird poems in the Whisk & Whir of Wings.Bill Harris  Kresge Eminent Artist

Ecstatic or meditative, watchful or wry, Terry Blackhawk’s poems invite us to join in pursuit of the hidden, the wild, the edge of language—what is beyond the frame.
The “whisk and whir” of these poems’ memorable music take us to swamp and woodland, beach and river, Ecuador, Detroit, Key West, into the heart of loss, memory, and love—wherever wing beats “exalt” or “disturb” our air. —Judy Rowe Michaels  Poet-in-the-schools, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation


To Light a Fire: 20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project  

The InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO) began in 1995 in five Detroit high schools, with weekly classroom visits by a writer-in-residence, the publication of a literary journal for each school, and the mission of encouraging students to use poetry to "think broadly, create bravely, and share their voices with the wider world." Twenty years later, the program serves some five thousand K–12 students per year, has received national exposure and accolades (including a recent visit to the White House), and has seen numerous student writers recognized for their creativity and performance. In To Light a Fire: 20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, founding director Terry Blackhawk and senior writer Peter Markus collect the experiences of writers who have participated in InsideOut over the years to give readers an inside look at the urban classroom and the creative spark of Detroit’s students.


These truthful, celebratory, inspiring essays show us how the writers and teachers of InsideOut have been creating sparks and lighting fires for young people in Detroit for two decades. The pieces, like the kids themselves, have grit, spirit, resilience, the breath of life. —Edward Hirsch, president, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation


Terry Blackhawk’s discovery of how art matters can’t help but excite and inspire. Stories she shares of her experimental, ever-evolving InsideOut project remind us how and why a wrong-headed attitude toward the arts can sink a whole nation’s boat. Through the poetry, storytelling, playwriting, and performances that she and other caring, recognized Detroit artists practice and profess, Blackhawk’s high school and other institutional students broke past barriers that border the heart. In Jack London’s enduring short story "To Build a Fire," the narrator says, ‘He worked slowly and carefully, keenly aware of his danger.’ To Light a Fire reignites that very same spark and flame. How much longer can we go on killing off, torturing, or warehousing our pitifully needed long-distance runners? Terry Blackhawk knows. This powerful anthology delivers. —Al Young, former poet laureate of California


The Light Between  

Terry Blackhawk's new collection, The Light Between, is an elegant meditation on loss and, in the aftermath of what is lost--relationships, certain sounds, an other, younger self--that which is gained. The intricate progression of these poems reveals the poet at work remembering and forgetting, then forging the thrilling slippages and figurative language that can make the mind leap to a new apprehension of things. Haunted by what can't be replaced--like lost sounds/trying to make themselves heard—The Light Between is a graceful articulation of the persistence of language to give back to us a knowing reflection of ourselves. —Natasha Trethewey, US Poet Laureate



The Dropped Hand  

In The Dropped Hand, Terry Blackhawk masterfully weaves threads of loss and grief into a fine tapestry that is both personal and universal.This is, I think, Dr. Blackhawk’s finest and most moving collection. —Naomi Long Madgett


I love the poetry of Terry Blackhawk, above all else, for its heart, always searching for “something bursting with spring and belief.” Through the poems in The Dropped Hand she teaches us both how to hold on and how to let go of those we love. These compassionate poems reach out through the complex world to find the connections that sustain us. She celebrates our exposed places, the places where we are most vulnerable and most human. We so often cover up those places — it takes a magician like Terry Blackhawk to reveal to us what was there all along. —Jim Daniels



Escape Artist 

Winner - 2002 the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry


"Terry Blackhawk’s poems, crisp as the first apples of autumn, are tart, knowing, and full of the growth of summer. Poems like these can sustain you." —Molly Peacock, 2002 Judge, the John Ciardi prize


“A mortal pressure, a dream of escape--Terry Blackhawk is writing for her life in her fine new book of departures and returns, flights and transformations”. —Edward Hirsch



Body & Field

"Poem after poem in her aptly titled Body & Field, Terry Blackhawk authenticates her immediate and richly imagined world with sensuous language and an intelligence that probes as often as it discerns. These are poems of a large spirit. I love the sensibility behind them, the eros in them, and the precision of their execution."Stephen Dunn

Terry Blackhawk's exquisite first book of poems is one of the reasons why poetry remains an important literary force in a world where so much language is reduced to sound bites, voice overs and the collapsed linguistic short-hand of ad copy. . . . It is her astonishing diversity of subject and brilliance of metaphor that sets this first book of poems apart. Anne-Marie Oomen