Artificial Sweetness (Finishing Line Press)
Carter’s Fifth Chapbook is Coming July 2023!
In Artificial Sweetness, Carter utilizes free verse, haiku, list poems, and experimental forms to create a short collection of poems that examine lust, love, and heartbreak from a queer perspective.
“Desire itself is an island, a bordered country within the body. What surrounds it is also what agitates and tensions its sovereignty— the contradictions of being. On the one hand is the body’s hunger, with its visceral pangs, which Charles poignantly noted as ‘the awakening of a deeper craving.’ Then the warmth/tenderness of love, romance and the emptiness that attends the mind in the wake of their disappearance. The poems in the chapbook articulate, in sharp and refreshing lines, the fraught and weighted moments of sexual awaking, especially for queer people whose desires have at once been policed and neglected. The language is lyrical and beaded with stunning observational details from pop culture to queer history and back to the self again. Artificial Sweetness is unflinching in its investigation of the body and its various locations of trauma and tenderness. It is alive and full of life too.” – Chibuihe Obi Achimba, author of Hallowed
“Raw, intimate, and ethereal. Charles K. Carter’s Artificial Sweetness is a stunning coming-of-age tale, a requiem for queer love, and a sensual, spiritual, elegy to a gay boy clawing his way through young adulthood. The reader takes a voyeuristic role, following Charles down a rabbit hole of gay hookups, lost love, and grief; Artificial Sweetness is a perpetually unwinding thread, a sprawling, ‘pure and unrestricted’ narrative. Charles delicately experiments with form in poems like Tongue and the collection’s stand-out piece, What Was. Other poems, such as The A-to-Z’s of Losing You, Crushed, Jealous, and Time Bending, are striking vignettes of Charles’ various romantic and sexual connections, ‘the stars’ briefly kissing ‘the / bright eyes of god.’ Artificial Sweetness is more than poetry; it’s a gorgeous, devastating love story, a hymn for queer boys everywhere. For me, this is one of those rare cases where a book somehow captures that thing, that unspoken, irresistible, spiritual and romantic knowing which edges on the indescribable, touching a particular nerve which when people ask you to explain all you can do is look at them, take a breath, and say: Just read it. You’ll know what I mean.” – Ari Lohr, author of EJAY.
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