Bill Carty lives in Seattle and is the author of We Sailed on the Lake (Bunny Presse/Fonograf Editions, 2023) and Huge Cloudy (Octopus Books, 2019), which was longlisted for The Believer Book Award. He holds degrees from Dartmouth College (BA) and University of North-Carolina-Wilmington (MFA), and he has received poetry fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Artist Trust, the Richard Hugo House, the Sorting Room, and Jack Straw. He was awarded the 2017 Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America, and his poems have appeared in the Boston Review, Ploughshares, Pinwheel, Iowa Review, Conduit, Warscapes, and other journals.

He is a Senior Editor at Poetry Northwest and teaches at Edmonds College and the Hugo House. He teaches at Hugo House, the UW Robinson Center for Young Scholars, and Edmonds Community College.

2024 Jack Straw Alumni Poetry Series:

We Sailed on the Lake, Bill Carty’s second collection of poetry, consists of lyrics of spiraling awareness. As a signal lamp, unused, mirrors the sky, these poems reflect approaching storms, near-misses, and the violence inherent in nature, country, and economy.

Excerpt from “Outer Lands”

I’ll tell you the story. I was walking
the outer edge of the outer lands

where sporadic signs staked in dunes
warned to keep distant from the mammals;

in fact, there were critical acts in place
to enforce nonmolestation,

but between me and the sea a seal
appeared to be having a time of it,

rocked and moaned in a deepening birth,
as if trying to summon momentum

to roll down the beach toward water.
In short, it seemed stuck and — it’s never far off

in the imagination — dying. I thought
I should bring sea to the seal. I filled

a detergent bottle at the surf and called
the seal “buddy.” “You OK, buddy?”

as the tide went this way, then that,
with no sense of intention. An hour before,

I had encountered a friend on this beach,
both of us having walked through our pasts

to that moment. Now he was gone
and I was supposed to be in the mountains

but the mountains were on fire.

2010 Writers Program

Sound Clips
  • Bill Carty - Portrait
    History in Your Hometown – Bill Carty