Work, for the Night Is Coming (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
Jared Carter has taken his time producing his first full-length collection, and the result is a performance of remarkable maturity. A glance at the acknowledgments shows that most of the poems had their previous publications only a year or two before the book appeared, but that a few go back to 1969. Nevertheless, this book does not contain the experiments, the tried-on voices and forms, that characterize many first books. Carter has decided what he is doing, and he sets about doing it knowledgeably.
Most of the poems have a kind of geographical setting or background in the Middle West; the place is identified in some of the poems as Mississinewa County, which Carter says is “east of Spoon River, west of Winesburg, and slightly north of Raintree County.” It is a place where the past is remembered, talked over by men in trucks on their way to construction sites, by loafers on the porches of village stores. The pace of life, and of the poems, is steady and patient; the details of both are seen as something to be treasured.
The first poem in the book, while not explicitly placed in this setting, provides something like an epigraph for the poet’s concerns; it is called “Geodes,” and is ostensibly about the rock-hound’s pleasure in these hollow stones lined with crystals. Without strain or insistence, the end of the poem becomes metaphorical:
I take each one up like a safecracker listening
For the lapse within,...
(The entire section is 1658 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
America. CXLV, July 18, 1981, p. 36.
Book World. XI, June 7, 1981, p. 5.
Booklist. LXXVII, February 15, 1981, p. 790.
Changing Times. XXXV, August, 1981, p. 66.
Hudson Review. XXXIV, Autumn, 1981, p. 423.
Library Journal. CVI, February 1, 1981, p. 357.
The New York Review of Books. XXVIII, December 17, 1981, p. 32.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVI, May 10, 1981, p. 12.
Virginia Quarterly Review. LVII, Summer, 1981, p. 94.
(The entire section is 52 words.)