Everyman’s Poet

Jared Carter, who has retired from a career in publishing, is a Midwestern poet of stature.  He won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and the Poets’ Prize; he has had a Guggenheim fellowship and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.  He is profiled in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, and the governor of Indiana, his home state, honored him with an Arts Award.  These honors are not misplaced.  For more than three decades he has contributed to high-ranked national periodicals, literary quarterlies, and poetry magazines. In recent years his verse has appeared in Chronicles.

This substantial new volume, which includes 30 new poems as well as selections from his five previous collections (published between 1981 and 2012), is the first in what is to be an “occasional” poetry series at the University of Nebraska Press, under the editorship of Ted Kooser, a former U.S. Poet Laureate.  The publisher’s and Mr. Kooser’s initiative is commendable.

Carter’s work is eminently civilized.  That is one side of his poetic coin; the obverse, but complementary, features are his accessibility, his concern for others, his ties to his region, and what David R. Slavitt has called “the morality of vision.”  They are two sides of the same coin.  What a contrast his work presents to that by today’s...

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