poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Christian Barter was born and raised in Maine. He received a BA in music composition from Bates College in 1990 and an MFA in poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 1997. In 2008, he received a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University.

Barter is the author of Bye-bye Land, winner of the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award and forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2017; In Someone Else’s House (BkMk Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Maine Literary Award for Poetry; and The Singers I Prefer (CavanKerry Press, 2005), which was a finalist for the 2006 Lenore Marshall Prize given by the Academy of American Poets.

The poet Tony Hoagland writes, “What a good poet Christian Barter is, whose poems make you believe—a difficult artistic feat—that poetry is an utterly natural act.  Reading them is like being handed a set of x-rays in the doctor’s office; you look at them, dumbfounded at how familiar these blurry shapes are—‘Oh yes,’ you think, ‘that is my youth, that is my brain, those are my dreams, that is my heart—’”    

In 2016, Barter was named poet laureate of Acadia National Park in Mount Desert, Maine. He lives in Bar Harbor, Maine.


Bibliography

Bye-bye Land (BOA Editions, 2017)
In Someone Else’s House (BkMk Press, 2013)
The Singers I Prefer (CavanKerry Press, 2005)

Kicking Russell Out of the Band

When he got there, a ring of us
were leaned on cars outside Terry’s garage—
guys around forty and me, twenty-seven—
when he got there in that little pickup
frail with rust, an aquarium of tools
through the truck cap window. It was
Terry who told him—for once in weeks
no anger in his voice about
the lagging tempo, or, That’s not calypso!
And then there was a silence not unlike
the half-a-sec at the end of a tune, mouthpiece
at my lips, not yet
the clatter of life again and Russell
went blank as a lottery winner—

Russell, who banged at two-by-fours all day
so he could play drums at night, who had been
with them since the first
cow-pasture-fests at Jason’s farm,
me always finding out after,
their names in a myth
of sunshine and hippy girls. “Chris,
did you go along with this?” he asked,
which, I remember, surprised me— 
I was still on the theory of people just
driving away. And when I saw him

at the bank last week, thirteen years later,
and asked him, “Are you playing any music?”
there was a moment in which
we were still standing there at Terry’s garage,
me leaning back on a car like a shy boy playing
cool at a dance, saying, “Yah, I did,”
believing this was a decision
about lagging tempos, thinking
it was actually an option to side with beauty.
And then Russell looked at me and said, “All the time.”
And then I just drove away.

From In Someone Else's House (BkMK Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Christian Barter. Used with the permission of the author.

From In Someone Else's House (BkMK Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Christian Barter. Used with the permission of the author.

Christian Barter

Christian Barter is the author of In Someone Else’s House (BkMk Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Maine Literary Award for Poetry. He lives in Bar Harbor, Maine.

by this poet

poem

Down the driveway, standing on the Russell Farm Road,
nothing but stars over my neighbor’s field
and over my neighbor’s house which crouches
under them with its lit windows,
cozy and distant as a research station.
Between the bare branches left hanging
like threads on cut shirt sleeves

poem

I know a woman who calls me
every week or so when she has something
on her mind and starts by saying,
"I have something to talk about
but let's start by talking about
something else." It helps her get it out.
So I ask her how she is and she says
okay and tells me about some poet

poem

It is very high, and notched in places, so that there is the appearance to one at sea, as of seven or eight mountains extending along near each other. The summit of most of them is destitute of trees… I named it Île des Monts Déserts. 
—Samuel de Champlain, 1604

 

When Samuel de Champlain