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Always a Reckoning and Other Poems Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 22, 1994
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From Library Journal
If Jimmy Stewart can publish a book of poems, so can former President Carter. These reflections on Carter's childhood, family, and political life are illustrated by his granddaughter.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Jimmy Carter's publisher is braver than Jimmy Stewart's. When the actor's verses came out some years back, review copies were not sent in any form. Times, though nervous enough not to send advance galleys, did submit the finished book of the ex-president's verse. A handsome little thing it is, presenting 44 humble yet competent enough poems, each illustrated with a drawing by Carter's granddaughter. Disposed in four groups thematically entitled "People," "Places," "Politics," and "Private Lives," the 44 are about half lightly nostalgic, often keenly evocative, autobiographical narratives and half blunt and simple reflections of his famously charitable political and social convictions. Although Carter is not in the same league in terms of literary skill or philosophical depth, his concerns, his subjects, and his attitudes recall those of Kentucky's great farmer-poet, Wendell Berry. If Carter's book of poems represents vanity publishing on the grand scale--and it does--his poetic persona doesn't sound or seem at all vain. Ray Olson
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Top customer reviews
Now we need to put politics aside here for a bit and concentrate on Mr. Carter as a man rather that Mr. Carter as a president. As those who know me quite well will tell you, I am probably the most apolitical animal on the face of this earth. When Mr. Carter was president he made a lot of decisions that I did not care for. But that being said, there is not one president in my life time that I have been happy with, and my life started during the Roosevelt Administration.
A few years ago I read another book by Jimmy Carter. It dealt with his hunting and fishing stories. I was greatly impressed by this work. (I collect autographed books and this was one of them. The signature is real because I was there when he signed it). As I read this work I found that I was amazed at the simplicity of this man and at the same time was stunned as to the complexity of his character. This collection of poem has only reinforced my opinion of the him.
This is a collection of poems that are actually quite simply but each and every one of them, it is obvious, has been written from the heart. Carter has used a wide range of techniques here and has covered a variety of subjects. The poems cover a range of emotions from humor, to sadness, to outrage and nostalgia. Some cover a wide range of social and racial issues; of time gone by and then again torn from our recent past and even some are in "the now." Each and every piece though is extremely reflective and are written in such a way that you can actually hear the author's voice as you read them. He is at his best when addressing social injustices and reflecting back upon sights and sounds of his early life.
Will Jimmy Carter go down in history as a giant among poets? I hardly think so. But that does not matter. We have here the words and thoughts of a very caring and thoughtful man. This is important stuff folks. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is making a study of Jimmy Carter the man and the president read this work as we most certainly get an insightful look into his soul, his motivations and general outlook upon life.
I have the habit of judging a man by how I would relate to him face to face. I always ask myself "would I like this person living next door and would I be comfortable sitting on my back porch, drinking coffee and talking with him or her in my own home?" Of all the presidents, really only three that make the cut for me; there is Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter with the possibility of Abe Lincoln. Of all the more recent ones, I fear I would set the dogs on them before they got halfway up my driveway.
It should be noted that each poem is accompanied by a black and white sketch by Mr. Carter's granddaughter. I have to tell you that the art work here is quite good
This is a wonderful little collection folks. Do yourself a favor and give it a read.
His style of poetry is not what I normally read (I prefer un-rhymed narrative poems) but these present a good insight to this remarkable man. Well worth the read.