The official publication date is a few days away and review copies are going out. The book will first go on sale in Indianapolis on Sunday, April 29, at a book launch held from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Flat 12 Bierwerks, located at 414 North Dorman Street. Please plan to attend. Meanwhile, from the media kit, here’s a backgrounder about the new book:
A Dance in the Street, Jared Carter’s fifth collection of poetry, will be published by Wind Publications, a prominent regional press in Kentucky, on April 10, 2012. The new book contains 36 poems in 114 pages and will have a list price of $15.00. The ISBN number is 978-1-936138-27-2.
The poems begin on familiar ground in fictional Mississinewa County, the locale of much of Carter’s earlier work. Gradually they expand toward a wider horizon – to poems dealing with the contemporary urban landscape, with ancient Egypt and medieval Byzantium, and with folk tale, myth, and works of art.
In poetic form, too, there is considerable divergence. The majority of poems are in free verse, but the reader will also encounter blank verse, rhymed couplets, a sestina, a found poem, and a sonnet.
In terms of overall tone and authorial voice the book will remind readers of Carter’s first two books, Work, for the Night Is Coming and After the Rain. The new collection offers a similar blend of lyrics and narratives, pastoral interludes and poems reflecting the darker side of human nature.
All are poems that have, as poet and critic Dana Gioia once observed about Carter’s work, “the quiet passion of conviction, the voice of a poet who knows exactly what he wants to say and how to say it. . . . Behind the range of styles and approaches,” Gioia reported, “one recognizes a single honest and contemporary voice.”
(For an online look at the new book’s Table of Contents, with links to sample poems, please click here)
The Wind Publications edition showcases the variety of stanza forms, line widths, and text lengths found in the individual poems. The interior layout is particularly impressive, with most two-page poems appearing on facing pages, and longer poems beginning on a right-hand page.
Equally impressive is the image on the front cover of a massive stone carving that has been broken up and left on a dust heap. It offers mute testimony to Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station, an architectural landmark that was destroyed in 1963. Jared Carter says he was intrigued by the photo when he first ran across it in 1987 and realized that eventually he would put it on the cover of one of his books.
The book’s title, A Dance in the Street, goes back even farther in time. It comes from these lines by William Blake:
What is the price of Experience? do men buy it for a song?
Or wisdom for a dance in the street?
The author was an undergraduate at Yale in the late 1950s when he first noticed the lines and was much taken with them. He told himself that someday he would write a book with “a dance in the street” as the title.
Now, half a century later, he has done just that. Was it worth the wait? Readers of contemporary poetry will have to decide.