Delights and Shadows
American author Ted Kooser is a master of metaphor, a poet who deftly connects disparate elements of the world and communicates with absolute precision. Critics call him a "haiku-like imagist" and his poems have been compared to Chekov's short stories. In Delights and Shadows, Kooser draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life. Quotidian objects like a...more
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have been lonely forever.
This quote, the final few lines from the American Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s emotionally charged poem Mother, works equally well as a depiction of how Kooser himself shows the reader ‘life at play’. In this Pulitzer Prize winning collection of poems, Delights & Shadows, we watch life come alive on a grand scale in small observations, and hear the language of the ...more
“I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen.”― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
Delights & Shadows, Ted Kooser, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, Washington, 2004
The appearance of this review marks something very new for me. That happens to be an acknowledgement that I have and do read poetry, though none of you who believe they know me would have ever thought it and those who do not know ...more
In Delights and Shadows, he writes about ageing and the deaths of his mother and grandmother. Domesticity and ordinary objects weigh heavily in Kooser's poetry: a button, a glassware set, an elderly man's ...more
It has been carefully painted
with the outlines of tools
to show us which belongs where,
auger and drawknife,
claw hammer and crosscut saw,
like the outlines of hands on the walls
of ancient caves in France,
painted with soot mixed with spit
ten thousand years ago
in the faltering firelight of time,
hands borrowed to work on the world
and never returned.
I lived in Iowa for my middle and high ...more
This is the pipe that pierces the dam
that holds back the universe,
that takes off some of the pressure,
keeping the weight of the unknown
from breaking through
and washing us all down the ...more
Here are just a couple of lines from a few poems. From ‘Old Lilacs’ this description of horses.
‘Their long legs are dusty
from standing for months
in winter’s stall, and their eyes
are like a cloudy sky
At the Cancer Clinic
She is being ...more
All night, this soft rain from the distant past.
No wonder I sometimes waken as a child.
A master of metaphor, he sees one ...more
These are twilight poems, written from 'his heart gone soft and blue with stories', nostalgic, mournful, celebratory and urgent. In fact it is the sense of emergency instilled in these poems that had me so transfixed.
I am in awe of the perfect economy of words, the ...more
My favourites included the first poem, “Walking on Tiptoe” (“There is little spring to our walk,/we are so burdened with responsibility,/all of the disciplinary actions/ that have fallen to us, the punishments,/the killings, and ...more
She is being helped toward the open door
that leads to the examining rooms
by two young women I take to be her sisters.
Each bends to the weight of an arm
and steps with the straight, tough bearing
of courage. At what must seem to be
a great distance, a nurse holds the door,
smiling and calling encouragement.
How patient she is in the crisp white sails
of her clothes. The sick woman
peers from under her funny knit cap
to watch each foot swing scuffling forward
and take its turn under her ...more
In that film, a group of awesomely misguided aliens nicknamed The Strangers steal a city's worth of human subjects and move them into their own, separate sort of universe in order to study them. Each night, The Strangers wipe the memories of these humans and exchange memories and pasts between people. A born store clerk wakes up one day and assumes the position of a blue blood millionaire. Buildings rise and fall every ...more
But enough comparisons; this is beautiful poetry. I'll quote a couple of the ...more
You will ...more
Favorite in this collection:
In only a few months
there will begin to be fissures
in what we remember,
and within a year or two,
the facts break apart
one from another
and slowly begin to shift
and turn, grinding,
pushing up over each other
until their shapes
have been changed
and the ...more
A Box of Pastels...more
I once held on my knees a simple wooden box
in which a rainbow lay dusty and broken.
It was a set of pastels that had years before
belonged to the painter Mary Cassatt,
and all of the colors she’d used in her work
lay open before me. Those hues she’d most used,
the peaches and
I loved several of the initial selections in this short collection of former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's works. "Tattoo," "Walking on Tiptoes," and "Biker" are wonderful, plain language explorations of life, aging, and mortality. What follows is very hit-or-miss. They're all perfectly fine poems, but nothing revelatory or gut-punching. And give that things started SO WELL....it was more of a letdown than I was expecting.
I will definitely look to read more of his works.
|21st Century Lite...: Delights and Shadows - Featured Book - Ted Kooser (April 2012)||12||39||Oct 30, 2012 10:46AM|
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 the day down into night,
to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand”
Mid April already, and the wild plums
bloom at the roadside, a lacy white
against the exuberant, jubilant green
of new grass and the dusty, fading black
of burned-out ditches. No leaves, not yet,
only the delicate, star-petaled
blossoms, sweet with their timeless perfume.
You have been gone a month today
and have missed three rains and one nightlong
watch for tornadoes. I sat in the cellar
from six to eight while fat spring clouds
went somersaulting, rumbling east. Then it poured,
a storm that walked on legs of lightning,
dragging its shaggy belly over the fields.
The meadowlarks are back, and the finches
are turning from green to gold. Those same
two geese have come to the pond again this year,
honking in over the trees and splashing down.
They never nest, but stay a week or two
then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts,
burning in circles like birthday candles,
for this is the month of my birth, as you know,
the best month to be born in, thanks to you,
everything ready to burst with living.
There will be no more new flannel nightshirts
sewn on your old black Singer, no birthday card
addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand.
You asked me if I would be sad when it happened
and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.”