Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Notes and Observations: Ted Kooser

Do not choose your wife at a dance, but on the field amongst the harvesters.

****From Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps by Ted Kooser

Last night I left Ted Kooser's poetry reading invigorated, and I'm motivated to venture into some new territory with my blog. Today I'll informally share my impressions of Ted Kooser's reading.
  • The event was held at The Oread, which is a new hotel in town constructed of native limestone. I'm still forming my opinion of the building, but it might be a bit too much for me. Inside the confines of the stone walls, I felt compelled to strap on a miner's headlamp and to do a little spelunking.

  • Poetry should be read aloud. The cadence and music of the words need to be heard for a poem to be fully savored.
  • Mr. Kooser mentioned that he enjoys writing about ordinary things.
  • One of Mr. Kooser's favorite activities is driving by himself and visiting small towns
  • Mr. Kooser is good friends with the painter Keith Jacobshagen who I mentioned in my post about my recent trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. After viewing Mr. Jacobshagen's painting and hearing Mr. Kooser read, I see why they are friends. There are great similarities in their works.

  • Mr. Kooser mentioned that he might revise a poem 30-40 time before he considers it complete. For someone like myself who doesn't always feel at ease putting pen to paper, I found this reassuring. Even someone of Mr. Kooser's talent and skill still struggles to find the right words.
  • He talked about the value of taking time to record family memories. I must set aside time to write down family stories.
  • He read a poem titled "Splitting an Order" about an elderly couple sharing a meal at a restaurant. I liked this poem because it reminded me of my grandparents who used to share a "broasted" chicken dinner at Green Acre's Restaurant.
  • When asked about his fondest memory of being the U.S. Poet Laureate, Mr. Kooser said his favorite moment was having the opportunity to interview the songwriter John Prine at the Library of Congress. John Prine was only the second songwriter to perform at the Library of Congress. The first was Woody Guthrie. You can view Mr. Kooser's interview with Mr. Prine at the following link: A Literary Evening with John Prine and Ted Kooser.
There's much more to share of my evening listening to Mr. Kooser, but I'll save it for another day. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to hear him speak.

you can observe a lot just by watchin',

1 comment:

Jenni said...

Yes, poetry should be read aloud, just not by Garrison Keillor. At first I thought he only chose lousy poems to read on Writers Almanac, but then I heard him destroy some favorites. Poetry should be read aloud, but not made to sound like you're reading a Hallmark card.

These little facts about Ted Kooser make me want to read more of his poetry. I had a quick look the other night after clicking your link, but I need to read more.