Mini-interview: TA Carter

Poet and paper artist, Terry Ann Carter is the author of six collections of long form poetry, two haiku guidebooks, and five haiku chapbooks; she has edited four haiku anthologies. As past president of Haiku Canada, founder of and facilitator for KaDo Ottawa (2001-2012) and Haiku Arbutus Victoria Study Group (2014-present), she has given hundreds of haiku and book arts workshops around the world.  A Crazy Man Thinks He’s Ernest in Paris (Black Moss Press) was shortlisted for the Archibald Lampman Award; day moon rising was shortlisted for the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award and Tokaido (Red Moon Press, 2017) won a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award. Haiku in Canada: History, Poetry, Memoir (Ekstasis Editions) and Moonflowers: Pioneering Women Haiku Poets in Canada (catkin press) were both published in 2020. Blue Moon: The Ono no Komachi Poems (with book artist Heather MacDonald) is forthcoming from JackPine Press.

What draws me to the writer: What can I add? A devotee of haiku, a major force in North American haiku, a former Ottawa poet and teacher, I have read with interest several of her books. Each takes a different tack. I read Tokaido recently and was impressed by its leaps and distilled qualities as well as personal reveals. This book goes on another journey, more linear and more memoir-like.

The book: First I Fold the Mountain (Black Moss Press, April 2022) was assembled and made by a publishing practicum class.

In this new book, Terry Ann Carter, a poet and paper artist, and the author of six collections of poetry, we see a writer and an artist grappling and celebrating  life’s grand mysteries surrounding language and love, and aging.

This is an unusual book, and one that might be seen as a ‘love letter to books’ and the those who inhabit that milieu. Terry Ann Carter writes about love, notably her husband and family, but it isn’t sentimentality that dominates these poems. These are narratives that encompass a big—picture and small—picture view, showing how the small yet beautiful ways love presents itself in everyday life. But equally this is a book about paper art and book making, and in this instance, this is presented as a lens through which to view love. 
As a paper artist who makes books with her grandchildren, we see a mother, a wife, a woman nurturing and inspiring all those around her. The result is this unique love letter both to books and to people.


“With the delicacy of lacework and finely folded paper … Terry Ann Carter’s poems show us the world through a magnifying glass.” -Writer Kate Braid

“these poems celebrate the imagination and the intimate and tangible moments of truth.” -Governor General Award Winning poet Robert Hilles


Origami Ragtime Razzmatazz

The best way to beat those West Coast January blues. 
Get the bends. 
Get the paints and inks, get the origami folds 
for a down home pop-up book. 
Clear the kitchen table. 
Stock up the glue. Start those mountain 
valley creases. 
You know what to do. 
Sharpen the scissors. 
Don’t count your loss(es) 
Don’t complicate the rain. Just 
use those thumb nails                  like a bone                 folder. 
Ease on up. Cut. Cut. 
A button for the cover
maybe a new lover.
Needles and threads    cor    ru    ga    ted         card    board
knock those knees, baby
one    two    three.

from First I Fold the Mountain by Terry Ann Carter

PP: What’s your goal with publishing haiku before they enter a manuscript?

TAC: This is a collection of longer form poetry….but the introduction is by way of a haiku.

I dont really have any “goal” around publishing haiku. I send off poems to favourite haiku journals now and again, and I like to support small haiku presses when they have a call for submissions….

PP: What was the genesis of your book?

TAC: The genesis comes from a number of experiences…first I had a book arts exhibition here in Victoria at the Gage Gallery. I made a chapbook to go with the books I designed for the show. That chapbook was also called First I Fold the Mountain. The title comes from this haiku,

book maker
first I fold the mountain
then the valley

One of the sections in the book is titled “Night Orchids/ Husband Wife” this section came about from some writing prompts that Patrick Lane gave at one of his writing retreats that I attended. We were to write in another person’s voice….so I tried it out. The poems in this section are part of a dos-a-dos book ….”the dos-a-dos book” (from the French for back-to-back)
binds two books with one cover or case. This allows the book to be divided into two distinct sections. I wrote poems in the voice of the “wife” and then the “husband”.

PP: What was or will your favourite moment(s) in making this book?

TAC: That would have to be the time I spent with Patrick Lane working on those poems in “Night Orchid”.

[Patrick Lane’s last collection, The Quiet in Me, released this week.]