Meet Acadia’s poet laureate

Christian Barter is Acadia's poet laureate. FILE PHOTO

Christian Barter is Acadia’s poet laureate.

Moving rocks by hand and inspiring hearts and minds with words are equally powerful avocations for Acadia National Park Poet Laureate Christian Barter.

Named laureate for 2016 in honor of the park’s centennial, Barter has been rising steadily in poetry circles since the publication of his first book, “The Singers I Prefer,” in 2005.

In his capacity as the park’s trail crew foreman, Barter spends his days supervising the no-nonsense work of repairing and expanding Acadia’s footpaths. Like the requirements of that job – moving and splitting rock, pushing dirt, cutting trees and channeling water – his words take readers through the process of thought, and in the end, to another world.

In May, Barter was awarded the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award for his third book, “Bye-Bye Land,” due out in spring 2017. The award is given biennially to a poet with a new book of exceptional merit.

Barter’s work has appeared in “Ploughshares,” “The Literary Review,” “Georgia Review” and “The American Scholar,” and has been featured on “The Writer’s Almanac” and “PBS Newshour.”


“What for”

By Christian Barter


What for, then, this bay

of roiling, these mountains standing

stock in their hunched files,

these four geese fast-forwarded by

like a movie kiss by the wind in its

hysterical vibrato–branches,

ferns, swamp grass and tiny bush stems

all quivering like mad

in their little cliques, none

taking one step out its

appointed place–what for, since not


human happiness. And this


light that is making metal

of the rain-soaked picnic table, slate

of the walls of waves and draping

bridal gauze above the rounded

shoulders of the most left-behind hills–

how else to see such

blatant references, like a

hostage answering the doors whose eyes


keep darting meaningfully to the side

while she says, “Yes,

it’s a nice day, isn’t it?”

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

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