Trust And The River


Listen to “Love or Something Like it” read by Author, Terry Pettit.


Many people are familiar with Terry Pettit’s achievements as a Hall of Fame coach, but not as many know that he is an accomplished poet as well. Terry earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas and continued writing poetry during his twenty-six years a college volleyball coach, and fourteen years as a mentor to coaches and athletic directors. In his introduction to Trust and the River, Terry writes the following:

“Some of these poems were begun over forty years ago. One was written last week. Even as I spent my professional life as a coach, assistant to the athletic director, mentor to coaches, and director of leadership academies, I continued to write essays, nonfiction, and poetry. I hope you encounter a phrase or metaphor that carries you the way that I am transformed when confronted with language that startles me to consider something in a different way.” -Terry Pettit, Hall of Fame Coach and Poet



Robert Creeley said that a poem is “an act of attention.” A bird singing brings us to attention. A person singing can bring us to tears. For a moment, time stops, and the reality that we are keenly alive collapses upon us. There’s a scene of such attention in Terry Pettit’s poem, “Route 9, Short of Kremmling, Colorado,” in which the valley below is felt to be breathing. We are speaking here about the poet’s ability to hold truth momentarily, because like the fish you catch in your hands, it’s bound to slip away. We are more alive for knowing the value of that impermanence: the turning over of a leaf in the wind, or, in Terry’s wonderful phrase, “moonlight slipping under the sheets.” The poetry is also beautifully voiced: “I live on Egg and Butter Road / in the quiet town of Columbiana.” No matter the scene, the course is toward the essential: the river in turmoil and calm, a “scree-covered ledge,” and the evidence that someone loves us.

-Paul Hoover, editor of the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry, and the author of fifteen collections of poetry.


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