The Singers I Prefer
by Christian Barter
Foreword by Sydney Lea
- Academy of American Poets The Lenore Marshall Prize Finalist 2006
I've been listening to Christian Barter's strong and subtle voice for some years now, and to read his first full volume is to recall, among other things, that this poet is also a first-rate musician. His are the capacities of the best jazz improvisers: an awareness of and respect for his predecessors; an instinct for just the right "change"; and that indefinable gift to howl in pain at the moon even as the virtuosity and beauty of the howling indicate the player's love of life. One of the most impressive debuts I know. —Sydney Lea
The ability to draw an honest bead on one’s personal history and on history in general is uncommon. Christian Barter is an uncommon poet, one who in poem after poem goes beyond the anecdotal and into the domain of the searched soul. His talent is at the service of an inquisitive urge that won’t quit but that recognizes how limitation assails us at each turn. In his best poems he makes a reader feel both the awe and the pity of time. —Baron Wormser
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CHRISTIAN BARTER was born and raised in rural Maine. He received a B.A. from Bates College, in music composition, and an M.F.A in Writing from Vermont College. He supervises a trail crew in Bar Harbor, Maine, doing dry stone masonry, tree work, and wild-land firefighting. Christian’s poems have appeared in a number of periodicals, including The Georgia Review, North American Review, American Scholar and Notre Dame Review. He has received residency fellowships from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Foundation and the Espy Foundation.
I lit a fire for the first time since last winter
and it smelled like being in love with you.
I half expected—no, that word is a lie—
I imagined, in the old way, the way
I had of imagining you when you drove up
my driveway with your books on tape
blasting away calmly about Lincoln's assassination,
that you would come charging up my driveway
in the old way, last winter's way, your tears still lingering
for Abe, you'd somehow forgotten had been shot,
and let me comfort you for some long-gone thing.
It smelled like you would, and kept right on smelling