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Terence Winch ’67


Bronx native Terence Winch was born to Irish immigrants in 1945. A 1967 graduate of Iona College, he moved to Washington, D.C. in the 1970s, where he became one of the “Mass Transit” poets and was closely associated with the New York writers connected with the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in lower Manhattan.
His latest book, This Way Out, set for publication in 2014, includes work of the last few years. In 2013, Salmon Poetry, based in county Clare, Ireland, published Lit from Below, a collection of 10-line poems that are more marked by the influence of Language poetry (an avant-garde style of poetry) than any of Winch's other work.
His 2011 collection, Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor, includes recent work along with some of Winch's best-known poems from earlier chapbooks, while Boy Drinkers is a series of mostly narrative poems that center around religion and Winch's New York brand of Irish-Catholicism. That Special Place: New World Irish Stories is a collection of non-fiction stories that come out of his experiences playing traditional Irish music with Celtic Thunder, a band he started with his brother Jesse in 1977.
Many of the songs he wrote for Celtic Thunder recount the story of New York's Irish community: with "When New York Was Irish," "Saints (Hard New York Days)," and "The Irish Riviera" are the best-known of them. Celtic Thunder's second album, The Light of Other Days, won the prestigious INDIE award for Best Celtic Album in 1988, and in 1992 Irish America magazine named Winch one of "The Top 100 Irish Americans."
His work appears in more than 30 anthologies, among them The Oxford Book of American Poetry and four Best American Poetry collections. His poems can also be found in Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House); The Book of Irish American Poetry from the 18th Century to the Present (Notre Dame); Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry (Soft Skull); Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (Scribner's); Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World's Most Popular Poetry Website (Sourcebooks); and From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas (Thunder's Mouth).
His work has appeared in The Paris Review, New American Writing, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, Conduit, Shiny, Verse, Western Humanities Review, Agni, The World, Hanging Loose, Smartish Pace, New Hibernia Review, The New York Quarterly, et al.
Winch's poems have also appeared in such on-line journals as Slope, Shampoo, The Cortland Review and Poetry Daily, and have been highlighted several times on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" radio program. Featured in a 1986 profile by Geoff Himes on National Public Radio, Winch was also the subject of a two-part interview with George Liston Seay on Public Radio International's "Dialogue" program in 1998. He has interviewed several leading Irish writers for the cable TV series, The Writing Life, and was himself the subject of an interview with Roland Flint for the series in 1998.
Terence Winch is a regular contributor to the Best American Poetry blog, and has written for The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, The Village Voice, The Wilson Quarterly, The Dictionary of Irish Literature, The Oxford Companion to American Poetry, and other books and publications.
In addition to an American Book Award and the Columbia Book Award, Terence Winch has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry, as well as grants from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Fund for Poetry. He is also the winner of a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing.
Terence Winch worked for the Smithsonian Institution for 24 years, most of that time as head of publications at the National Museum of the American Indian. He also worked as senior editor and acting chief of publications at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. During his time at the Smithsonian, he produced more than 60 books and catalogues and five sound recordings of music and spoken arts. From 2009-12, Winch was a councilor with the Maryland State Arts Council.