This 1-Minute Poem Report was written by guest contributor Deborah Buchanan.

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Baroque is a word that will never spring to mind in connection with Ted Kooser– instead, plain spoken or direct. But not completely. In addition to the quiet openness of Kooser’s poems are his subtle insights into the vagaries of human activities.

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Like the poet Wallace Stevens and the modernist composer Charles Ives, Kooser sold insurance for a living. He lived and still lives in Nebraska. He is an inheritor of vast space and tight communities. Kooser’s poetry explores the day to day world around him, a person canning applesauce or a man accidently seeing a woman he once loved. But underneath the observation is an understanding of our paradoxes and complexities. In “Shadows and Dreams” he ponders the people walking out into the unknown world of old age:

                                             Their ears

are full of night: rustle of black leaves

against a starless sky. Sometimes

they hear us calling, and sometimes

they don’t. They are not searching

for anything much, nor are they much

in need of finding something new.

Kooser is a close friend of Jim Harrison, a poet whose reputation for wild, excessive living stands in contrast to Kooser. Polar opposites, close friends– they have written a book of short vignettes, almost letters, titled Braided Creek. Neither writer is identified in the conversation, leaving the focus on what is said. And it is a wonderful conversation that carries the reader right into their friendship and into their poetic explorations.

Lost for while,

I found her name

when I scratch through

my hair.

 

To prevent leakage,

immerse yourself in clouds and birds,

a jubilant drift downward.

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