Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ted Kooser, Poet Laureate, recitations and remembrances

Eyes wide open during quilting of words: images from last night.

I saw Ted Kooser read poetry last night, I listened and I felt. He talked about “the bee song of the book” and discussed characters he met in his poetry who “looked like someone who had to be reckoned with”. He talked of times where “shuffling magazines grow still” when he heard he had cancer. One of his poems called Lobocraspis griseifusa he wrote because no poet (no poet) could pass up the image of a moth that lives on tears!!! This moth can live on tears! He talked about that which is beyond the edges of his poems.

But the best thing he said when asked about the purpose of poetry (as if it needs a purpose, a lawyer was asking the question) was that

poetry can lift life.

That is so profound to me. And truthful. He takes the ordinary and makes it poetry. It already is, IMO, but he uses words to sculpt the extraordinary from these mere things. Bowls of buttons “an ocean upon which generations of women set forth”. He talked about his mother’s death, the reader, the ordinary reader. He talked about those who write poetry that the ordinary reader could not understand. He talked about a writer finding an audience, finding the right audience. He talked about spreading the joy of poetry to all, his mission as laureate. He will have a newspaper column that will be starting in a few weeks where he will print a poem and discuss it.

There really is poetry for everyone. You just need to try out different poets and see what fits, like a comfy housecoat that wraps you in its warmth. My image anyway. I want my poetry to touch me, to enlighten me to an image that changes how I view the world. I apparently have high expectations for poetry. Stuff that changes my world. And when I find a poet that does this to me and for me, it is a gift beyond the telling. A phrase maybe, something that touches. That is all we got I say!! Connection and the art of the word. The word as tool to touch each other’s spirits and souls. And when our lives are lifted this way, we are more human and more alive. Like I say, I have great expectations for my poetry. Last night, my life was lifted a little. That is a tremendous gift.

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