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Brent Terry authors poetry book '21st Century Autoimmune Blues'

Published on April 27, 2022

Brent Terry authors poetry book '21st Century Autoimmune Blues'

Brent Taylor
Brent Terry reads from his new book of poetry in Webb Hall. 

Eastern Connecticut State University English lecturer Brent Terry gave a poetry reading on April 26 in support of his new book titled “21st Century Autoimmune Blues.” Published by the Unsolicited Press, Terry’s book is a series of poems that tackle political and personal subjects in a comedic and emotional way. Inspired by his personal health obstacles and the climate of the world, the content of Terry’s book is quirky, entertaining and thought-provoking.

B Terry The inspiration behind the book title comes from Terry’s personal experience with a chronic autoimmune illness mixed with the realities of climate change. As a former athlete whose running capabilities are now limited, Terry coped by writing and sharing his thoughts. His illness is often triggered by environmental conditions such as pollution and food preservatives. “The link to climate change, the natural world, the effects of social media and misinformation, create a mental and emotional analogue to autoimmune disease,” said Terry.

Terry displayed artwork associated with each poem that he created with award-winning visual artist and writer Lorette Luzajic. The paintings featured bright colors with objects that correlate with the background story of each poem. Objects ranged from flowers to Coco-Cola bottles, butterflies, balloons, celebrities and more. “I was asked to submit a poem to an anthology, and she (Lorette Luzajic) did the cover and I liked it and we’ve been working together since,” said Terry. “Why she wants to work with me I have no idea, but I’m grateful she does.”

Since Terry’s poems discuss personal and controversial topics, the chances of facing backlash and disagreement are high, but Terry shared why this doesn’t concern him. “I think that as somebody who cares deeply about the world and those who live here, my poems can’t help but be both personal and controversial. "I care about equality and inclusion and the necessity for everyone to have a voice,” said Terry.

“I care about the devastation of truth on social media, creeping authoritarianism, abuse of the language by ideologues on both right and left, who are more interested in power or in the dopamine rush of righteous indignation than in serving the people they claim to speak for. A poet’s first job is to tell the truth, and a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the truth. As for backlash or disagreement, I don’t fear it at all. In fact, I welcome it. It means I’ve struck a nerve, made someone think or feel. I always hope readers, even when they find fault with what I say, respond with intellectual and emotional integrity.”

Terry read more than eight poems from his book, including “Death at the Food Truck Rodeo,” which is “A happy little poem about dying of Anaphylactic shock,” said Terry. “The Torrent is a Harbinger” is a poem for his late little brother. Other poems included “Tinker Bell Gone Bad,” “Jack Rabbit Heart” and “New Killer Star.”

Several students shared the impact Terry had on their English and writing journey. “I have spent the past three months in Professor Terry’s Introduction to Creative Writing class. In this short amount of time, I truly believe that I have advanced as a writer,” said one student. “His course has inspired me to switch my major from criminology to English.”

Another student said, “I’m extremely grateful to Professor Terry for being a part of my journey toward the very end. He has unleashed a creative spirit in me that I didn’t quite know I had, redefining the very relationship I have with poetry.”

“I am just a raw nerve, a quivering antenna picking up the signals the world is sending, then responding as musically and imagistically as possible,” said Terry.

Written by Bobbi Brown