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Splitting an Order

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  59 reviews
One of the "Big Indie Books of Fall 2014"—Publishers Weekly

Paterson Poetry Prize, 2015

"Ted Kooser must be the most accessible and enjoyable major poet in America. His lines are so clear and simple."—Michael Dirda,The Washington Post

“Readers [of Splitting an Order] will find ‘characters’ both strange and wonderful, animal or human. There is a sense that time is passing qui
Hardcover, 87 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Copper Canyon Press (first published October 14th 2014)
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Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I learned a valuable lesson from Kooser years ago in his poem about Depression glass. You don’t have to wait for epic subjects like death, floods, war, birth, or marriage to write good poems. The small moments and everyday objects surrounding us hold universal truths about who we are – “to see a world in a grain of sand” as William Blake said.

He takes the idea of turning everyday life into art even further by writing about things many of us find disgusting and not worthy of a second thought or l
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Let me say before I write anything more that I absolutely love Ted Kooser. Without ever having met him or having any communication with him whatsoever, I've taken to calling him "Uncle Ted" and returning to his poems whenever "life is too much like a pathless wood" as Yeats would have it.

Splitting an order is not Kooser's best book. Delights and Shadows might be or Local Wonders (I've got The Wheeling Year on my night table to begin tonight so stayed tuned for any possible ranking changes). But
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ted Kooser is the big eye behind the magnifying glass,
when it comes to the small and quiet things in life.

And I love what that eye records while it's at work.
He's worth the time. Several poems should not be missed.

So, what can I do but give it a thumbs up!
And, here it is...
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My favorite poets are those that make us say “oh yes, I understand that, because I’ve felt that way too, or I’ve seen the same thing but haven’t known how to find the words for it.” Ted Kooser does that with poems about ordinary life that are both beautifully simple and deeply profound. Like Mary Oliver, he’s especially good at paying close attention to what can so easily be ignored otherwise in order to capture the essence of what our lives have to tell us.

The titles of the poems in this colle
Larry Smith
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adults, college students,
Clearly and surely this is a mellow book by an older poet who is comfortable with his time and place yet has kept eyes and ears and heart open. Ted Kooser is our Nebraskan poet who served as Poet Laureate for a country and for poets who thrive on the simple and direct. Yet that is not saying that his poems are simple, for they manage to sense and convey the quiet meaning of things...our dream life "a weighty thing/ like life itself, in which you dip/ the leaky cup of your hands/ and drink." One ...more
Joan Colby
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kooser employs simple language to make the most uncannily astute observations. Example: From “Estate Sale”
A 25-amp glass fuse.
Under the clear ice of its surface
It is easy to see the silver ribbon
Of a motionless fish,
Its body aligned with the current.
In the predawn cold and darkness,
It was only a pinch of light,
Not more than a cup of warmth,
As a farmer carried it over the snow
To the barn where his dozen cows
Stood stomping, heavy with milk
In the milky cloud of their lowing.
But that was m
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a very quick read. It walks you through a few precious experiences, in simple. straight-to-the-point lovely poems.

It was good to read in the breaks between a weekend with friends.

It does deal with seeing and moments, part of my particular interests in life, being in the present, observing, thinking metaphorically as a way of life.

Many types of art serve different purposes. While not overly sentimental, this book is also not pushing the bounds of poetry or conversing in the language of
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I wanted to love this poetry collection, but I ended up just liking it. I am big fan of Ted Kooser, and I look forward to reading the poems he selects for the American Life in Poetry column he publishes weekly. Overall, I found these poems to have very nice descriptions, but many of them lacked the ah-ha moments I look for in poetry. I think it's Billy Collins who said that good poetry begins in Kansas and ends in Oz. For this Kooser collection, most of the poems begin in Nebraska and stay there ...more
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ted Kooser makes one see the ordinary details of everyday life through a fresh lens. In this collection of short poems and one essay he is able to use plain language (no dictionary needed) but forces the reader to examine various images, moods, seasons, behaviors. Each poem presents the world in a fresh, pleasing way.
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
As always, Kooser weaves magic out of the ordinary.
Nathan Albright
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2018
This book is without a doubt one of the finest in the volumes that I have read of Kooser's poetry.  And this book is a worthwhile reminder of what it takes to make great poetry [1][, and that is a combination of skill with words and putting them together in a memorable and elegant fashion as well as the observation of reality that provides the raw material for so many of these wonderful poems.  Fortunately, Kooser shows both observational skills to a high degree as well as the ability to put the ...more
Daniela Hendea
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ted Kooser is a master of making mundane memorable. He's inspiring, by encasing daily details in a fresh light. Another strong point: his ability to keep a phrase going (sometimes one poem is one single phrase!), in perfect harmony and sense.

My favorite poem in this collection: Hands in the Wind, followed closely by...all the others, really.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me too long to read, and I haven't done the poetry thing in a while, both of which could be reasons I didn't like this one quite as much as Delights and Shadows, which I read last year. Not as many standouts in this one, I don't think. That being said, most of these poems still show off Kooser's uncanny ability to find profundity in the everyday.
Maura DeJaynes
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Saw Ted speak in Burlington IA in 2005. It was a great experience and his poetry is so vivid and engaging, this book did not disappoint. If you want to feel like you are right there in the poem, you have to read Ted's work!
Maggie Sun
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Not quite as good as Delights and Shadows but still a great read -- Ted Kooser doesn't disappoint!

*110th birthday
At Arby’s, at Noon
In a Gift Shop
Garrison, Nebraska
A Mouse in a Trap
Sleep Apnea
First Marriage
*New Moon
Spanish Lessons
Lisa Mooney
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great collection by Ted Kooser. Wonderful pieces about everyday life.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm normally not one for poetry, but picked this one up on a whim. The author writes about the mundane in such an emotional way. It inspires you to see the beauty offered in everyday life.
Jake McAtee
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Kooser is great with taking any object, place, or person and casting it in verse. Nothing is off limits. There were a few incredibly striking phrases but it didn't sustain throughout.
Shawn Aebi
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another strong, consistent offering from Kooser rich with the country life imagery, sounds and smells from days gone by. Easy to work through with stories about ghosted dogs and houses once lived in.
Kevin Summers
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
Favorite poems: "Garrison, Nebraska" - "Closing the Windows" - "First Marriage" - "A Person of Limited Palette." Also, the essay "Small Rooms in Time" is great.
Denise Ballentine
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, library
Ted Kooser is an accessible, easy-to-read poet, whose gentle everyday feel, often carries with it a deeper meaning. I enjoyed this collection, some poems better than others, which is usually the case with any compilation. Reading a poem more than once often reveals new pearls of understanding hiding within the deceptively simple lines. Two of my favorites: "Hands in the Wind" and "Painting the Barn."
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Splitting an Order, Ted Kooser often finds himself an observer, examining relationships across generations -- fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. His language is clear and has a finality to it like an axe cutting through woo. The settings, too, are mundane: men at bodyshops, women at grocery stores. Yet Kooser sees the gentle tug and pull of all relationships that sadly remain buried, invisible, to the rest of us.

Here are excerpts from a few of my favorites.

On a parking lot stairca
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ted Kooser is one of those poets who manage to get enough memorable poems into their collections that the collections rival anthologies of multiple poets' works. And this not even a best-of collection. I was very impressed.

Kooser's greatest strength seems to be encapsulating little humdrum moments, hanging them in the clear glass sphere of an imagistic poem, and then adding magical sparkle with analogy and metaphor and a light touch of the poet's narrative gloss.

This everyday scene with a brief
Benjamin Vineyard
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Kooser remains my favorite poet and SPLITTING AN ORDER continues Kooser's telling of life found in the American mid-west, especially the "Bohemian Alps" of Nebraska (where my wife also grew up).

SPLITTING AN ORDER read like a meditation on Psalm 90:12, a numbering of days in order to gain a heart of wisdom. This is what Kooser's simple poetry does so well -- it helps me see the days I am in.

I also heard in Kooser a longing, an embrace of life's latter years and days. At least a touch. The passin
Dan Wilkinson
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it,” says a quote attributed to Michelangelo. Translated for the task of writing poetry, it might say, “Every detail of life contains a poem, it is the task of the poet to discover it.“

This is the work of Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser: to chisel away at the stone of everyday life and discover the poetry already hiding inside. Kooser’s new collection, Splitting an Order, do
Splitting an Order by Ted Kooser

I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half,
maybe an ordinary cold roast beef on whole wheat bread,
no pickles or onion, keeping his shaky hands steady
by placing his forearms firm on the edge of the table
and using both hands, the left to hold the sandwich in place,
and the right to cut it surely, corner to corner,
observing his progress through glasses that moments before
he wiped with his napkin, and then to see him lift half
onto the extra plate that he ha
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Splitting an Order

by Ted Kooser

I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half,
maybe an ordinary cold roast beef on whole wheat bread,
no pickles or onion, keeping his shaky hands steady
by placing his forearms firm on the edge of the table
and using both hands, the left to hold the sandwich in place,
and the right to cut it surely, corner to corner,
observing his progress through glasses that moments before
he wiped with his napkin, and then to see him lift half
onto the extra plate that he had
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Debbie by: R.J. Musselman and Lee Bonnett
Shelves: poetry
Wow...this was my first reading of Ted Kooser's work and I am hungry for more. His poetry is unlike any I have ever stumbled across.

He takes the ordinary, mundane tasks or actions of life and bring them into our full view with great descriptions and animation. His piece called "Switcing Drivers" is a perfect example of this. Kooser takes the simple action of an elderly couple pulling off the road to switch drivers and we the outsider see the balance of the car shift as they climb in and out. We
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A book of poetry? Not poetry as most have known it; rather a poignant, haunting series of reflections on matters most have not stopped to ponder. As in "Estate Sale," "Zinc Lid, or "Dead Bat" or in such ordinary events as"Bad News," "Changing Drivers," or the opening poem, "Two Men on an Errand." This poet has the ability to lift the veil of "ordinary" to reveal the most extraordinary insights. The title poem, "Splitting an Order," is a wonderful example of Kooser's artistic vision as he uses la ...more
Jul 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Ted Kooser, like Wallace Stevens, worked as an insurance company executive before committing to poetry. Less the Stevens-type modernist, he tends to be a populist storyteller mix of Robert Frost and the Imagist school (think William Carlos Williams). Kooser is a keen observer. Although most of the time the observational detail is surface bound, it occasionally reveals the interior--emotions and thoughtscapes--that deepens and opens up the poem for engagement by the reader. Like a 5 A.M. visitati ...more
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Ted Kooser lives in rural Nebraska with his wife, Kathleen, and three dogs. He is one of America's most noted poets, having served two terms as U. S. Poet Laureate and, during the second term, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection, DELIGHTS & SHADOWS. He is a retired life insurance executive who now teaches part-time at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The school board ...more