Ted Kooser, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, also spent most of his life working for an insurance company - this one in Nebraska - but his colleagues were very much aware of his other gig. After all, he used to run his verse by them "to keep the language of my poems from becoming literary," Kooser once explained.
That white collar "workshopping" of his poems obviously paid off. Reading his homespun verses in Delights & Shadows, you can almost see him behind the poems, sitting on a fold-out stool sketching, noting the "white shirt cuffs and collars" of funeral party guests in "Mourners" or his grandmother's "boxy black shoes" in "Dishwater."
There is nothing static to Kooser's portraits, however, even when they have the ephemeral quality of a moment. In "Skater," for instance, Kooser displays the same fluid strokes Degas used in his ballet pictures.
Across the ice she swooped
and then turned back and, halfway, bent her legs
and leapt into the air the way a crane leaps, blue gloves lifting her
lightly, and turned a snappy half turn there in the wind before coming
down, arms wide, skating backward right out of that moment, smiling back
at the woman she'd been just an instant before.
In his best moments, Kooser inspires a kind of voluptuous rumination. He is an exquisite miniaturist of daily life and Delight & Shadows is his junk shop elegy. You'll recognize what's on sale and how it smells. After thunderstorms there will be ozone in the air, and in the high summer nights you might discover a fly fishing reel for $5.
Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser. $15. Copper Canyon. 87 pages.
Other Worthwhile Words This Week
Mexican great Ignacio Padilla reads in both Spanish and English from Antipodes, his collection of short fiction. Tues., April 26, 7 p.m. (reception); 8 p.m. (reading). Carter Library, 441 Freedom Parkway. Free. 770-551-3019. www.gpc.edu/~gpccr.
Southern poets David Bottoms, Natasha Trethewey, and Alan Shapiro read from their work. Mon., April 25, 7:30 p.m. 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St. $10. 404-733-5000. www.woodruffcenter.org.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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