Following up his The Believer Book Award nominated debut collection Huge Cloudy, Bill Carty's second poetry volume WE SAILED ON THE LAKE continues the poet's idiosyncratic poetic pursuit, one simultaneously concerned with family and commerce, the natural world and the urban landscape.
WE SAILED ON THE LAKE, Bill Carty’s second collection of poetry, consists of lyrics of spiraling awareness. As a signal lamp, unused, mirrors the sky, these poems reflect approaching storms, near-misses, and the violence inherent in nature, country, and economy.
The poems in We Sailed on the Lake are closely observed, finding unexpected affinities within urban and natural environments alike. As one poem states, “to cross the lake / you’ve got to make each step / pertain the water,” and these poems explore relationality in many forms, moving from gentrifying cities to coastal beaches, from the sculptures of antiquity to YouTube searches, cataloging passing days “of which light is the measure.”
Alternating longer, occasionally narrative poems with short lyrics, this collection plays with time and ideas of promise, from youth to parenthood, noting how the self negotiates the artifices, be they technological or of self-design, that infringe upon reality and experience.
"Bill Carty is a poet of emotional depth and conceptual range—fluent in both Wordsworth and the sounds of a stranded seal—making poems that can feel simultaneously mythic and modern. This book is a gift, full of large-scale questions about being human (“I’m only as human as the last place I’ve slept,” he writes) delivered with a voice that feels genuine, sharp, and full." —Matthew S. Olzmann
"Being inside a Bill Carty poem is like going on a walk to the corner store for a bag of chips and on the way getting an unexpected natural history lesson whose insights deftly link, sometimes with the hinge of a single word, this history to your life, which of course was never unrelated to begin with, and at once the connections between things sharpen, and perception tilts as you sense, more acutely, the shape of what had settled over you (for how long now?), as the poem speaks the temporary name of this shape aloud just before it shifts its form, and all of this feels somehow normal, and also sacred but not in an overdetermined way, and in the end you get your chips and they are just as good as you hoped. No, they’re better.” —Ari Banias
Bill Carty is the author of HUGE CLOUDY (Octopus Books, 2019), which was long-listed for The Believer Book Award. He has received poetry fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Artist Trust, and Hugo House. Originally from Maine, Bill lives in Seattle, where he is Senior Editor at Poetry Northwest and teaches at Hugo House, the UW Robinson Center for Young Scholars, and Edmonds College.