I see where the bookmark is in the closed pages of Ted Kooser’s Red Stilts and realize I’ve been reading faster than I meant to; it’s a new Kooser book and I like to savor the first read. It’s like a dish of something especially good and you want it to last longer than it does. Each poem is a pleasure. Even the epigraph at the start is Kooserian, though it’s a Tolstoy quote from “Father Sergius”: “After he’d walked away, she stood in the yard in starlight, listening to dogs bark, each more faintly as he passed the farms along the road.”
I can see it, hear it, feel it. That’s a summation of Ted Kooser’s poetry. The cover of this newest gem from Copper Canyon Press is a rather entrancing painting of an alley by Don Williams, an oil titled Nebraska City Alley and it, too, echoes Kooser charm and clarity.
Once finished with this, I’ll never be finished; I’ll return to it often. I have a shelf of Ted Kooser poetry and whichever book I pull from it, it takes me quietly away from whatever dissonance the outside world is shoveling at me, and into a gently masterful poem that seems so simple, so connected to everyday things we miss in our confusion.
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Kooser, for this kid you had in 1939. And thank the world for carving his genius. Simply awesome.
Red Stilts by Ted Kooser. Copper Canyon Press, 2020.
Reviewer bio: 5-time Pushcart nominee and author of seven books, Guinotte Wise’s poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals. Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com.
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