I’ve Got Questions for Terri Kirby Erickson

A Sun Inside My Chest by Terri Kirby Erickson
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date? 

A Sun Inside My Chest, poetry, Press 53, October 8, 2020

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about? 

Author Emily Herring Wilson had this to say: “Terri Kirby Erickson’s sixth book, dedicated ‘for love,’ is a world I want to live in: generous people, beautiful flowers, birds of every feather, landscapes of mountains and sea, and love of every kind, from passionate romance to family and friends, hawks and owls and herons and clouds and outdoor cathedrals.”

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

Poetry, free verse

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far? 

“I think this is your best book and that’s saying something.” One always hopes that every book is better than the last, rather than the other way around!

  • What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?] 

It is comparable to any collection of poetry that was written with the intention of celebrating the “ordinary” and inviting readers to engage with the poems in ways that are meaningful for them.

  • Why this book? Why now? 

A Sun Inside My Chest is the product of almost three years of writing, and many changes occurred in my life during and after this time period, including my father’s long illness, his death, and six months later (after the manuscript was in the hands of my publisher), the sudden death of my mother. I was incredibly close to my parents and trying to come to terms with their deaths continues to be an excruciating process. And while there are poems in this book that do speak of loss and suffering, most of the poems reflect my passionate adoration of the gorgeous world in which we live. Although pain and hardship are part of every living (and therefore, mortal) creature’s earthly existence, I believe the best way for me to honor my parents and their abiding love, is to nourish and to mirror my capacity for joy and wonder and gratitude in my life and in my work.

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had? 

The best job I ever had was as the assistant to the Director of Vascular Ultrasound Research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center School of Medicine. I loved my “boss” and all of my co-workers, and one of them has been like a sister to me for decades. The people I worked with every day—they are what made this job so great.  As for the actual work—being a radio copywriter at various radio stations in the late seventies and early eighties, was the most fun. I wrote advertising copy for everything from tires to barbecue!

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book? 

My hope is for the poems to move readers in such a way that they become more mindful of and pay closer attention to the “present moment” in their own lives. Poetry is a kind of magic, I think, when it does what it is supposed to do—which in my opinion, is to inspire readers to think and to feel, and to know that while we may sometimes feel alone in this big world of ours, we are all connected and more alike than we are different.

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book? 

My grandma’s buttery pound cakes as well as my mother’s spicy shrimp creole—different recipes for sure, but both made with so much love.

  • What book(s) are you reading currently? 

I am a huge Alexander McCall Smith fan, and I’m currently reading his latest novel, How to Raise an Elephant, from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. It is just as wonderful as all the others, and I ordered the hardback edition from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem. I urge everyone to support independent bookstores during these challenging times, along with small presses. Thank you for your excellent questions, Cliff!

Terri Kirby Erickson

Learn more about Terri at her website.

Buy the book from the publisher, Press 53, or from any bookseller. Terri recommends Shermans Maine Coast Bookshops.

Also available online from Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.

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