Secret Room in Fall, A   (December 2006)

By Maria Terrone

ISBN: 978-0-912592-60-2

A Secret Room in Fall is the co-winner of the 2005 Robert McGovern Publication Prize.

  • Reviewed in Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing, volume 28, number 2

A Secret Room in Fall is a compelling, imaginative collection not to be missed.  The poems move easily among their many contexts - history, literature, autobiography, travel, and subtly loving, persuasive portraits.  The manuscript opens with an Egyptian queen asserting the tricky ubiquitousness of the dead, and goes on to surprise and delight with other unexpected speakers and odd conclusions.  Its people - Blanche, fanciful namer of colors; a handicapped man on a train platform; obliviously happy lovers carting their mattress in the subway; "The Woman Ironing" - all acquire biographies through the situations assigned them and the details that give them a hold on the reader's attention and memory.

As an immigrant with an insider's understanding of the diversity of America, I responded viscerally and joyously to "The Fruited Plain," without missing the poem's hints of hopes unfilled and dreams often deferred.  Thsi is a rich, generous serving of the fruits of poetic observation, of attention to "voices from other rooms" that speak of realities beyond what can be perceived.

- Rhina Espaillat



Even over-familiar subjects like 9-11 are transformed in Maria Terrone's imagination to fresh, intriguing journeys.  New York and Italy, modern life and distant history are acutely observed, leading the reader into "secret rooms."  Pedicurists, workers of many sorts, artists and widors are all shown striving for some transcendence, some unnameable beauty.  Like "a brilliant kaleidoscope, the sea we hold within/will allow us to sail through our own lives,/ unharmed."  In such declarations Terrone speaks for us all.

- David Mason



This is lively and incisive new work.

- Maxine Kumin



Whether confronting heavy matters close to home and family, taking in gritty facets of the urban landscape, or bringing to sympathetic light anonymous, mainly female workers in the shadows and giving each her moment of perfectly articulated presence, Maria Terrone's poems are quietly insistent, recuperative acts of imagination.  At times spiced by a wry humor, at times opening to small toughes of rapture ("I rise daily, a miracle"), A Secret Room in Fall suggests a world that is one "dense, resplendent cargo," of which the poet takes exacting, loving stock.

- Eamon Grennan


 Available at: Amazon | Small Press Distribution


About the Author

Maria TerroneMaria Terrone, author of The Bodies We Were Loaned (Word Works, 2002), is co-recipient of the McGovern Prize from Ashland Poetry Press for A Secret Room in Fall, 2006. Her work, which has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has won several national prizes and has appeared in such magazines as Poetry, The Hudson Review, Crab Orchard Review, Atlanta Review, and Notre Dame Review. Her poetry also appears in several anthologies, including The Heart of Autumn (Beacon Press), The Poets’ Grimm: 20th Century Poems From Grimm Fairy Tales (Story Line Press), and The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food and Culture (The Feminist Press). Terrone recently received an Individual Artists Award from the Queens Council on the Arts.  A life-long New Yorker, Terrone is Assistant Vice President for Communications at Queens College of the City University of New York.

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