poem index


Christian Barter

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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.


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

by this poet


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


            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


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