Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for Poets

Today is Thanksgiving and so we must perform a holiday ritual that hasn’t changed for as far back as I can remember, even though the players are different.  We madly clean the house, prepare food, drive to Super Walmart because (oh dear!) we’re missing X, continue preparing food, get out and clean the china and silverware, check the turkey in the oven, clean and set the table, check the turkey in the oven, and pray ... that we (especially the turkey) will be ready by the time the guests arrive.

Hopefully there will be some time to be thankful, not just that the turkey is done but also for the things that make our lives enjoyable and satisfying.  Most important of course are food, shelter, health, family and friends, but there are many other things to appreciate as well, for example poets.  I’m very thankful that there are poets writing poetry that can set my mind to wandering.

Ted Kooser is among my favorites, in part because he's so adept at pointing out beauty and fascination in everyday life, everyday people and everyday worlds, both natural and man-made.  But I’m not going to share a poem.  Kooser also is a great essayist though maybe not as well known for it.  His prose is as engaging and often as concise as his poetry; I suspect the words are just as carefully chosen.  Here he describes something of autumn in Nebraska (could just as well be here in Wyoming):
“What is it the wind has lost that it keeps looking under every leaf this way?  All day I’ve watched her angrily pacing, muttering under her breath.  She is going to be late, I suppose, for some important engagement.  She is saying, I think, that she set it down only a moment ago, whatever it was, and now it has vanished, along with a necklace of geese and the icy lingerie of rain.”
Ted Kooser was 13th Poet Laureate of the United States, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and hosts the weekly American Life in Poetry.  This excerpt is from Local Wonders - Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (2002; University of Nebraska Press).

Autumn in Dugout Gulch, northeast Wyoming.


  1. Beautiful, Hollis. This isn't a work I know at all, but will now find. Thank you. (I hope you had a good holiday, and everything was ready when your guests arrived!)

    1. Thanks, Anne. And thanks for posting poetry at tmt. I used a bit of Aspens in my latest post -- I like thinking that "We cannot other than an aspen be" :-)