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code, poetry, philosophy, folly (Andrew Kuklewicz)

End-of-Year Reflections from Ted Kooser

31 Dec 2005

I am a Ted Kooser fan. Why aren't you reading his work every day?

I read Delights and Shadows last month, and am ready to buy more of this retired insurance salesman/poet laureate's work. Please don't let me try and do justice to describing his work, but I will say it reminds me of Charles Wright - I heard him speak once in NYC, I think he read from Black Zodiac.

Differently, I also enjoyed his Poetry Home Repair Manual, which I am almost done reading, and only started digesting.

And even if you could care less, he has excellent citations/examples, so you are also getting poems that have stuck with Kooser, like this oft-mentioned one from Joseph Hutchinson:

Artichoke
O heart weighed down by so many wings.

To paraphrase Kooser, after you read that, can you ever see, or think about an artichoke the same way?

If all else fails to convince, I like that he writes for those of us without advanced degrees in Ulysses, and most of you will like that too.

Today, while it has a 'rural elitist' slant (i.e. urbanites are spoiled, real life is in the country, the nobility of a rugged individual accomplishing of small things, etc.), he provides a bit on the end of the year. It's a breath of cold air to sweep the year into the dust bin.

NPR : End-of-Year Reflections from Ted Kooser:

december 31
Cold and snowing.

The opening pages forgotten,
then the sadness of my mother's death
in the cold, wet chapters of spring.

For me, featureless text of summer
burning with illness, a long convalescence,
then a conclusion in which
the first hard frosts are lovingly described.

A bibliography of falling leaves,
an index of bare trees,
and finally, a crow flying like a signature
over the soft white endpapers of the year.