Ghost County by John McCarthy and Supermoon by S. Carey

I watched S. Carey perform a small handful of his songs in a tree house last summer. After live scoring a poetry reading from Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Sean Carey and his band played their set in the woods, off the path between the two main staging areas at last year’s Eaux Claires Festival. About 75 of us huddled together around the elevated, wooden platform, careful to avoid poison ivy and stepping on each other’s toes. With the first note, everything stilled. His stripped down atmospheric songs cut down to the core.

Carey, perhaps better known as collaborator and band member of Bon Iver, spends most of his time fishing and raising his family in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He’s as Midwestern as they come. Supermoon provides bare essential versions of his already openly exposed songs. Carey trims down some older songs, covers Radiohead’s “Bullet Proof . . . I Wish I Was,” and gives us the new titular track.

John McCarthy’s debut poetry collection, Ghost County echoes the same strange, sad terrain as S. Carey. McCarthy captures rural Midwest with lines like, “Nothing says forever like covering ink up with a Carhartt” in the section amply titled “Pickup Truck.” His voice is raw and tells the story of the Midwest in a way that seems beyond his own years. Ghost County exposes the bleakness of the land in only as many words McCarthy needs to do so.

Get out of the city and back to the openness of the Midwest with these works.

I will lie about it all

to relieve you the burden,

explaining how we are ghosts

and we want our ghost child

to be the best damn shadow

this side of the light . . . 

- From “Pickup Truck” in Ghost County