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304th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 304th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Ted Kooser:

Abandoned Farmhouse

He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.

A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.

Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm—a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.

What do you think?

228th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 228th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Check out the stops on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Ted Kooser for my friend, Anna at Diary of an Eccentric:

A Happy Birthday

This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.

What do you think?

Guest Post: Author Beth Hoffman Shares Her Favorite Poem by Ted Kooser

Today, I’ve got a real treat.  Not only is one of my new favorite authors — Beth Hoffman, author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt — visiting today, but she’s also sharing her love of a poem written by one of my favorite poets — Ted Kooser, a former U.S. Poet Laureate (2004 – 2006).

I adore both of these writers immensely, and I’m so glad that today for National Poetry Month, they’ll be sharing the same space.  Without further ado, please give Beth a warm welcome.

In a letter to George Bainton, dated 1/15/1888, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) wrote: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

I believe that statement to be true (and an ideal goal) in all writing, but especially in poetry. For an ill-chosen word that goes unnoticed or is forgivable in longer writings, surely is a disastrous bump in poetry.

Word selection, imagery, and variations of tone through word values and sounds are vital to a poet’s successful composition. It is with these thoughts that I have selected to highlight my favorite work by poet laureate Ted Kooser. Mr. Kooser ranks high among the nation’s most esteemed poets and served as the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 – 2006. He also won the Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems, Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004).

While countless poems have moved me to a state of wonder, it is a poem from Ted Kooser’s collection Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985 (University of Pittsburgh Press) that evokes not only powerful imagery, but a delicacy of sadness and loss that is, in my opinion, visceral and genius. In a scant 126 perfectly selected words, he tells an entire story I never tire of reading, and I’d like to share it here.

A Room in the Past
by Ted Kooser

It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
with a morning light so bright
you can’t see beyond its windows
into the afternoon. A kitchen
falling through time with its things
in their places, the dishes jingling
up in the cupboard, the bucket
of drinking water rippled as if
a truck had just gone past, but that truck
was thirty years. No one’s at home
in this room. Its counter is wiped,
and the dishrag hangs from its nail,
a dry leaf. In housedresses of mist,
blue aprons of rain, my grandmother
moved through this life like a ghost,
and when she had finished her years,
she put them all back in their places
and wiped out the sink, turning her back
on the rest of us, forever.

Thanks so much, Beth.

Author Beth Hoffman

About the Author:

Beth Hoffman, a New York Times bestselling author, was the president and owner of a major interior design studio in Cincinnati, Ohio, before turning to writing full time. She lives with her husband and two cats in a quaint historic district in Newport, Kentucky. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is her first novel.

 

 

Poet Ted Kooser

About the Poet:Ted Kooser was the United States Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006 and won a Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems DELIGHTS AND SHADOWS. He is the author of twelve full-length volumes of poetry and several books of nonfiction, and his work has appeared in many periodicals. This is his first children’s book. He lives in Garland, Nebraska.Barry Root has illustrated many books for children, including THE CAT WHO LIKED POTATO SOUP by Terry Farish and THE BIRTHDAY TREE by Paul Fleischman. He lives in Quarryville, Pennsylvania.

***For today’s National Poetry Month Blog Tour, please visit with Read Handed.***

Guest Review: Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser

Today’s guest review of Ted Kooser’s Delights & Shadows is by a good friend and blogging pal of mine, Anna from Diary of an Eccentric.  It didn’t take too much arm twisting to get her to participate in Celebrating Indie & Small Press Month; All I had to do was give her a book to read.  She also gets to count this one for the Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge I’m hosting . . . see how diabolical I am?!

Ok, on with the review:

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser won the Pulitzer Prize for Delights & Shadows, which was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2004. Kooser’s poetry is what one would call “accessible” because it doesn’t take much deciphering or pondering to get at least a surface understanding, though some of his poems go much deeper.

Delights & Shadows is a collection of quiet poems touching upon such themes as memory, aging, death, and nature. Kooser obviously spends a lot of time observing his surroundings, and many of his poems bring ordinary objects or simple moments to life. When Kooser looks at the world, he sees things that many of us would miss, and the descriptions of what he sees are fascinating. In “Tattoo,” Kooser describes an old man browsing a yard sale and contemplates his past after he sees a tough-guy tattoo on his arm. In “A Rainy Morning,” he compares a woman pushing herself in a wheelchair to a pianist, writing “So expertly she plays the chords/of this difficult music she has mastered” (page 15).

Kooser manages to say so much in just a line or two. In “Father,” in remembering his father’s illness, he writes “you have been gone for twenty years,/and I am glad for all of us, although/I miss you every day” (page 36). In “Horse,” he calls a horse “the 19th century” (page 56), which calls to mind civilization’s past dependence on the animal. Other poems compare a pegboard to ancient cave drawings, describe the moment in which a bike rider pedals off, and use a spiral notebook to conjure memories of the past.

Delights & Shadows also includes a couple of narrative poems, poems that tell a story in verse. In “Pearl,” Kooser talks about visiting his mother’s childhood playmate to tell her that his mother has died. My favorite poem in the collection is “The Beaded Purse,” about a man taking home the coffin containing the body of his daughter, who’d left home to pursue an acting career and hadn’t been home in years.

Kooser is a master of quiet observation and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. In Delights & Shadows, he describes the delights in these simple things, as well as the shadows of the past that these objects and observations conjure up.

Delights & Shadows was published by Copper Canyon Press, which was founded in 1972 and publishes only poetry. The company’s pressmark is the Chinese character for poetry, which stands for “word” and “temple.”

Disclosure: I borrowed Delights & Shadows from Serena to review for Independent and Small Press Month. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon affiliate.

Thanks, Anna, for participating in Celebrate! Indie & Small Press Month!  Seems to me that you really enjoyed this collection.  What other Kooser books will you be reading?