#BookReview: intermodulations

I was first introduced to Steve Carter’s poetry at a reading and open mic sponsored by A Freethinker’s Corner, a new independent bookstore in Dover, New Hampshire. (Support your local independent bookstore!) He prefaced the reading of each poem by informing us of precisely how many times it had been rejected before finding its way to the right editor’s desk for publication. That certainly got my attention–and the poems that followed kept it.

Here is my review Steve Carter’s debut collection, intermoduations.
Click on the book image to buy intermodulations from Biblio.com.

Steve Carter’s debut poetry collection, intermodulations, offers a view of the world through the eyes of someone who has lived the examined life. The language in the majority of the poems is spare and direct, urging the reader to stop, pay attention, listen.

The poems range in subject from a simple observation of two young men going about their jobs on a Saturday morning in “Ceremony #1” to watching a daughter eat a slice of cantaloupe in “Inexpressible Joy” to resisting the luxury of doctrine offered by religion in “Meditation in Black.”

Carter’s background as a jazz guitarist is evident throughout the collection. “Working in Boston (jazz recitative)” speaks to the toll that the day job takes on those in the arts and the strain of trying to stand out among “so many faces / trying to make places / for themselves / working in Boston.”

“A Voice Crying in the Wilderness” provides a slightly different take on the desire to make it as a performer, while “The Singer” just needs to hear the sound of his own voice again. “Dancing under the Stars” is a reminder of what can be lost when a musician and, by extension, anyone in the expressive arts, reaches a certain level of technical mastery.

As suggested by “Working in Boston,” the notion of place plays a prominent role in the collection, extending to three poems about Florida, which perfectly convey the sense of unease the New Englander experiences upon entering that two-dimensional land called Florida.

There are also delightful moments of humor in the collection, as in “Betsy,” a chance encounter in the park with an exuberant young girl who has nothing of the spare or direct about her as she wonders if she could “catch the sun in this bell” before running off to join her friends, leaving the speaker of the poem to think, “oh well / i don’t have to worry / if the sun ever falls / old betsy will catch it / in her bell.”

In the end, the standout in intermodulations has to be “another poem written in the laundromat (for my wife).” It’s a love poem that no amount of description can do justice. You’re just going to have to read it for yourself.

On the strength of intermodulations and his most recent publication in Fourth and Sycamore, Steve Carter is now on my list of poets whose work I actively look for. I would encourage other readers would appreciate good poetry to do the same!

47 thoughts on “#BookReview: intermodulations

  1. The title “intermodulations” is certainly an intriguing one. I would be interested to read the poem Dancing Under the Stars, I am curious what happens when one becomes too technical and crossed a threshold that is difficult to return back from. Stating that someone has lived the examined life is perhaps the best compliment one could potentially give and I’m curious to see if the poetry lives up to the potential that the title lends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Chantal. I particularly appreciated “Dancing Under the Stars” because I remember how excited I was in college to develop the ability to read a work of fiction from three perspectives simultaneously: for the story, for the deeper elements of theme and social commentary, and for the craft. Then, later, when the day came that I was no longer able to fully enjoy a story because I could see the technical flaws of craft, I realized that something, in fact, had been lost.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish there were more independent bookstores around here that would support writers and poets like Steve Carter, who sounds very interesting. But these days it’s only the big chains and if they promote anything it’s books written by ghostwriters for celebrities on how to loose weight after giving birth and such nonsense. Makes me despair a little.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Like you I count myself fortunate to now live in the Pacific Northwest where independent bookstores abound – and poetry readings and author talks are standing room only events! Over 10 years ago I lived in Oklahoma and the absence of bookstores was very like what Sarah describes. I can’t help wondering which comes first the anti-intellectualism mindset or the lack of educational settings, bookstores and etc

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I suspect that too… and anti-intellectualism is taught by example, at the very least, to the younger people. It is important to see people of all ages reading, viewing art, seeing theatre, science museums…etc. so that the arts and intellectual pursuits are valid options in life.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Is it okay if I ask you how easy it was to write your first book
    I am writing one now and it’s not very easy or very hard but I could do with some toos if that’s ok

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Creative non fiction
        Simply a story about the evolution of my mind from when I became a Christian up until now.
        Challenging biases and assumptions taken for granted that frankly limited my Christian growth Perspectives that are not necessarily Christ’s which we accept
        Could be controversial .
        Thing is there are so much to consider
        Yea fun but not easy

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the the laundry!!! Be still my heart!! How wonderful to have a new independent bookstore!! I would SO love to visit it!!! I will google and see if they sell online and mail books… Thanks again for your reviews!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, the pandemic did in the physical bookstore, but they still have online shops at Bookshop.org and Biblio.com. It was real loss to the literary and arts communities in our area when the store went under.


      1. I’ve found it online! Thank you!! I value indie bookstores so much that if online is what’s available then that’ll work… but yes the loss of a physical place is a keenly felt one. I feel the same about art galleries too. Seeing art in person is so different than images online… and for me browsing in person in a bookstore is a special experience. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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