Jared Carter has received the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, the Poets’ Prize, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and two literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His newest book, Darkened Rooms of Summer, is a collection of poems that conjures the landscape of the Midwest and the lives of everyday Midwesterners.
I have no prior experience with National Poetry Month, but I did do a bit of promotion for poetry back in the 1980s. In those days I had an old tan-colored Volvo station wagon that I drove around the Midwest, occasionally giving poetry readings to just about anyone who would listen.
This in itself is not remarkable. But on the Volvo’s rear bumper I had affixed a sticker I had found in some flea market that read, in bold capital letters, I BRAKE FOR DELMORE SCHWARTZ. The 1980s was an age of catchy bumper stickers but still, I was convinced that I had one of the most mysterious and at the same time one of the most appropriate bumper stickers an aspiring poet could ever wish for.
Looking back on those days, I realize that my only other attempt to promote poetry in general may have been the choice of location for my various book launches, all of which, curiously enough, took place during the month of April.
In April of 1981 my first book was launched at a cocktail party in Greenwich Village, hosted by my agent. The book was published by Macmillan and my agent got me an advance of a hundred dollars, which wasn’t bad in those days. It was a nice party, too. Courtesy of the publisher, all of my East-Coast friends attending were given free copies of the new book, which I was told was an old New York publishing custom. I can assure you that no freebies are passed out at book launches today.