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President Carter Publishes a Book of Poetry
13 Sep 1994


With Talking Peace (Dutton Children's Books, 1993), Jimmy Carter became the first former president to write a book for junior and senior high school students. Now he has written his first book of poetry.

Always a Reckoning (Times Books, 1995) features 44 poems from President Carter's childhood, family, and political life. With this book, he follows in the footsteps of former Presidents John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln, who also published books of poetry.

Illustrated by one of his granddaughters, Sarah Elizabeth Chuldenko, the poems range from serious to sentimental, from political to personal. "It Can Fool the Sun" tackles homelessness. "Of Possum and Fatback" recalls the sounds and rewards of all-night hunts in the woods. "Life on a Killer Submarine" captures the feelings and sounds of cruising silently under the sea.

President Carter first turned to verse as a young man, when he was courting his wife, Rosalynn. "I don't know if today I'd call them art," President Carter said of his early work, "but at least they did the job at the time." President Carter nurtured a quiet but growing admiration for poetry as the years went by, and during the 1980s, he began to seriously study under the tutelage of Arkansas poets Miller Williams and James Whitehead.

In 1991, President Carter sent Mr. Williams a batch of verse. "I was very impressed," Mr. Williams said. "I told President Carter at the time that he wrote like someone with great natural athletic skills who had long watched tennis but had never played. He had a lot of raw skill, which he was determined to hone."

The three men visited and corresponded regularly about President Carter's work, with Mr. Williams acting as primary critic, mentor, and guide. President Carter shared his poems with family and friends, until finally, he was ready to publish.

"This is a much more personal and reflective work than one usually sees from a man in President Carter's position," said Peter Osnos, publisher of Times Books, a division of Random House. "It's an unprecedented look into the thoughts and memories he holds dear."

From Always a Reckoning by Jimmy Carter
Miss Lillian Sees Leprosy
for the First Time

When I nursed in a clinic near Bombay,
a small girl, shielding all her leprous sores,
crept inside the door. I moved away,
but then the doctor called, "You take this case!"
First I found a mask, and put it on,
quickly gave the child a shot and then,
not well, I slipped away to be alone
and scrubbed my entire body red and raw.

I faced her treatment every week with dread
and loathing--of the chore, not the child.
As time passed, I was less afraid,
and managed not to turn my face away.
Her spirit bloomed as sores began to fade.
She'd raise her anxious, searching eyes to mine
to show she trusted me. We'd smile and say
a few Marathi words, and then reach and hold
each other's hands. And then love grew between
us, so that, later, when I kissed her lips
I didn't feel unclean.

Editor's Note: Always a Reckoning is available in local bookstores.

 

Recent Books by Carter Center Fellows

An Outdoor Journal: Adventures and Reflections
(University of Arkansas Press, 1994) by Jimmy Carter. The second volume in The Carter Center collection, a series of new and updated editions of previously published books by Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter. Available in local bookstores.

First Lady from Plains
(University of Arkansas Press, 1994) by Rosalynn Carter. This new release of Mrs. Carter's memoirs provides insight about the shy, small-town girl from rural Georgia who became First Lady of the United States. The third volume in The Carter Center collection. Available in local bookstores.

Television/Radio News & Minorities
(The Aspen Institute and The Carter Center, 1994) by Donald Browne, professor of speech-communication at the University of Minnesota; Charles Firestone, director of The Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program; and Ellen Mickiewicz, Carter Center fellow and director of the Commission on Radio and Television Policy. The second book to issue from meetings of the Commission on Radio and Television Policy.

To order copies, contact The Aspen Institute, Publications Office, P.O. Box 222, 109 Houghton Lab Lane, Queenstown, Md. 21658, (410) 820-5326, fax (410) 827-9174.


New and Noteworthy Carter Center Publications
The Carter Center publishes conference reports, occasional papers,working papers, and journal articles written by Carter Centerscholars and fellows.

Conference Report Series ($5 each)
The Challenges of Faith and Health (July 1994)
Report of the national conference of the Interfaith Health Program to help faith groups learn what congregations can do to promote health in their communities.

Working Paper Series (Free)
Elections in Mexico--Third Report (August 1994) and Fourth Report (December 1994)
Reports from the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government prior to and after the Aug. 21, 1994, national elections in Mexico.

Special Reports ($15 each)
The Democratic Challenge in Africa (November 1994)
Discussion papers from the May 1994 seminar on "Democratization in Africa," the third in a series of seminars sponsored by the AfricanGovernance Program.

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An Outdoor Journal: Adventures and Reflections


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First Lady from Plains

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Television/Radio News & Minorities

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