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Jefferson Carter


Recent Books of Poetry

Photograph of a cover of "Yesternow," featuring the painting "Star Anise" by Jim Waid.
Photograph of the cover of "Diptheria Festival," featuring a painting by Jim Waid.
Photograph of the cover of "Birkenstock Blues," featuring a painting by Jim Waid.
Photograph of the cover of "Get Serious," featuring a painting by Jim Waid..
A 2013 Southwest
Book of the Year

In the Press

Tony Davis,

"For Tucson poet and volunteer activist Jefferson Carter, the environment is a cause worth supporting.
But he knows that environmental poetry can be boring.... 
Carter links this issue to a broader difference between what he calls subject- and language-driven poetry."

Frank Jude Boccio,

"You don’t have to 
have Jefferson placed 
right in front of you as 
you lead a yoga class 
to see how obvious 
this crustiness is but a 
soft coating over the 
heart of a romantic, 
replete with a com-
passionate response 
to, and acknowledge-
ment of duhkha. At 
times, the poet he 
most reminds me of 
is Billy Collins, but a 
more mordant, twisted,  
even punk Collins."

Michael Gessner,

"After eight collections of poetry, a poet usually arrives at a point when a 'new and selected' is a natural, a given, if not some-thing of an earned entitlement; a milestone in any case. This is no less true for Jefferson Carter’s Get Serious,
a gathering of the best of a poetry that is as original as conditions of originality permit, so much so it seems to stand alone, like a night club in a cemetery."

Jerret Keene,

"Like any great beast, Carter's imagination is vivid, visceral and a wonder to behold. My Kind of Animal is every verse-lover's kind of poetry collection."



Photo by Shannon Montenegro

Jefferson Carter was raised in Tucson and attended Roskruge Junior High, Tucson High, and Catalina High.  He earned a B.A. from Pomona College, then, in 1972, a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Arizona.  He  taught at Pima Community College, the Downtown Campus, for thirty years, the last 18 years as Writing Department Chair. Carter is a long-term supporter of Sky Island Alliance, a locally-based environmental organization. He lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife Connie.


His work has appeared in such journals as Carolina Quarterly, Barrow Street, Cream City Review, Four Chambers, Rattle, and New Poets of the American West. His book Tough Love won the Riverstone Press Poetry Chapbook Award (West Chester, PA). Chax Press (Tucson, AZ) published his ninth collection, Get Serious: New and Selected Poems, which was chosen as a Southwest Best Book of 2013. Diphtheria Festival (2016) may be ordered from Mainstreet Rag Publishing, and Birkenstock Blues, his most recent collection, is now available from Presa Press (Rockford, MI).


Carter has given readings at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, Pima Community College, and various venues in Tucson, Flagstaff, Bisbee, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. He was a featured reader at the Tucson Poetry Festival in 2007 and at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2009, 2012 and 2013. In 1982, Carter won a Tucson/Pima Arts Council Literary Arts Fellowship. His poetry has been reviewed in Jacket 2, The Arizona Daily Star, and numerous publications in Tucson and Phoenix.


"I'm an opportunist, not a poet with a plan.  Whatever catches my fancy, I write about: an engaging image, a political or environmental issue, a bit of zoology, an overheard conversation, and, of course, love. In grad school, I fell for Jonathan Swift. Thirty years later, I still have to rein in my satirical impulses to protect whatever is tender in my poems."

Greatest Hits

In The Press
Greatest Hits

Readings & Events

Upcoming public events and readings can be found at Jefferson Carter's Poetry Events Facebook Group. 

Photo by Patrick Hynes

Photograph of Jefferson Carter performing wth Frank and Friends.


Photo by Bill Moeller

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