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Jared Carter

1939–

Jared Carter was born in Elwood, Indiana, in 1939, and studied at Yale University and Goddard College. Carter worked as a newspaper reporter for a short while before serving in the military. After his service, Carter traveled abroad before settling in Indianapolis, where he began working in textbook publishing.

In 1980, at the age of forty-one, Carter won the Walt Whitman Award for his first collection of poems, Work, for the Night Is Coming (Macmillan, 1981), selected by Galway Kinnell. Since then he has authored several other poetry collections: Darkened Rooms of Summer (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), A Dance in the Street (Wind Publications, 2012), Cross This Bridge at a Walk (Wind Publications, 2006), Les Barricades Mystérieuses (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1999), and After the Rain (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1993).

In his introduction to Darkened Rooms of Summer, Ted Kooser writes, “This poet can employ the most difficult of literary forms with such remarkable ease and grace that you won’t even notice the scaffolding. He can tell a compelling story on the wings of authentic speech. … He has been called a ‘preservationist poet’ because he wants to preserve what he knows and loves, and he does that for us in an unforgettable, inimitable way.”

Carter’s honors include the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award; the 1992 New Letters Literary Award for Poetry, judged by Philip Levine; the Poets’ Prize; and the 2002 Rainmaker Award for Poetry, judged by Marilyn Chin, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Indiana.


Bibliography

Darkened Rooms of Summer (University of Nebraska Press, 2014)
A Dance in the Street (Wind Publications, 2012)
Cross This Bridge at a Walk (Wind Publications, 2006)
Les Barricades Mystérieuses (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1999)
After the Rain (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1993)
Work, for the Night Is Coming (Macmillan, 1981)

 

By This Poet

3

Geodes

They are useless, there is nothing
to be done with them, no reason, only

the finding: letting myself down holding
to ironwood and the dry bristle of roots

into the creek bed, into clear water shelved
below the outcroppings, where crawdads spurt

through silt; clawing them out of clay, scrubbing
away the sand, setting them in a shaft of light

to dry. Sweat clings in the cliff's downdraft.
I take each one up like a safecracker listening

for the lapse within, the moment crystal turns
on crystal. It is all waiting there in darkness.

I want to know only that things gather themselves
with great patience, that they do this forever.

Palimpsest

The walk that led out through the apple trees –
the narrow, crumbling path of brick embossed
among the clumps of grass, the scattered leaves –

has vanished now. Each spring the peonies
come back, to drape their heavy bolls across
the walk that led out through the apple trees,

as if to show the way – until the breeze
dismantles them, and petals drift and toss
among the clumps of grass. The scattered leaves

half fill a plaited basket left to freeze
and thaw, and gradually darken into moss.
The walk that led out through the apple trees

has disappeared – unless, down on your knees,
searching beneath the vines that twist and cross
among the clumps of grass, the scattered leaves,

you scrape, and find – simplest of mysteries,
forgotten all this time, but not quite lost –
the walk that led out through the apple trees
among the clumps of grass, the scattered leaves.

After the Rain

After the rain, it’s time to walk the field
again, near where the river bends. Each year
I come to look for what this place will yield –
lost things still rising here.

The farmer’s plow turns over, without fail,
a crop of arrowheads, but where or why
they fall is hard to say. They seem, like hail,
dropped from an empty sky,

Yet for an hour or two, after the rain
has washed away the dusty afterbirth
of their return, a few will show up plain
on the reopened earth.

Still, even these are hard to see –
at first they look like any other stone.
The trick to finding them is not to be
too sure about what’s known;

Conviction’s liable to say straight off
this one’s a leaf, or that one’s merely clay,
and miss the point: after the rain, soft
furrows show one way

Across the field, but what is hidden here
requires a different view – the glance of one
not looking straight ahead, who in the clear
light of the morning sun

Simply keeps wandering across the rows,
letting his own perspective change.
After the rain, perhaps, something will show,
glittering and strange.