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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)

Something Else

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
or politician she's met and how
he wasn't at all what she expected
or about the D.C. weather,
the traffic jams, the dirty Metro.
Sometimes she never gets around to her point
at all, but ends by saying,
"Now I don't want to talk about it
anymore." Last week I had a fever
for four days and the world
took on a kind of flickering darkness—
it seemed so thin, so insubstantial,
not the kind of place a person could live.
This guy who came to the card game
last night, he says he dreams
of a dead friend all the time,
this friend walks out of a black alley,
walks always in a kind of shadow.
I asked him what it's like to be dead,
the guy said, fumbling a face-down card,
and he said it's not a place, heaven,
it's a feeling, the feeling of knowing
everything you never knew. Then the friend
told him one of the numbers to play
this week in Megabucks. Sometimes, though,
she does get around to what's on her mind—
a sadness for her little sister, killed
in a wreck, or a fear that we
won't see each other again, won't ever
feel whatever that was we felt when we
were making love. I don't know if we will.
I don't know if she will ever see
her little sister again except in dreams,
which is somewhere, I guess.
The number was eight.

From The Singers I Prefer (CavanKerry Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Christian Barter. Used with the permission of the author.

From The Singers I Prefer (CavanKerry Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 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

We interfere with what we know by knowing it.
We interfere with what we do by doing it.
We interfere with what we love by loving it.

I guess you could say we’re the causes of our own loneliness.

We interfere with what we watch by watching it.
We interfere with what we write by writing it

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

poem

            on Beethoven’s Opus 131 in C-sharp minor

Until the last three hammer strokes batter
through its dense walls with the light of C-sharp major, this

is the darkest music we know and yet
there is no struggle here, no pain,

just death strolling around in some city it made