Meet Ted Kooser

Well, I wish I really knew Ted Kooser so I could introduce him with some personal anecdote, but his accepting my fangirl ‘Friend Request’ on Facebook – along with hundreds of other ‘friends’ he doesn’t know – doesn’t really count, does it? Yet that’s part of the charm and beauty of this poet, he makes one feel as if he does know you.

As I write this, I realize Ted reminds me of my ‘Grandpa’ Stone, an elderly man who lived across the alley when I was growing up. Grandpa knew how to do an honest day’s work, but also knew the importance of sitting under the cherry tree soaking up the sun and observing life around him. And no one was a stranger. Grandpa always had an empty lawn chair next to him under that tree, inviting.

Maybe it’s Kooser’s same Midwest roots and living that breeds this sense of camaraderie. Maybe it’s because he started out as a life insurance executive before becoming a college professor that he connects with the average person so well. Even his craft book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, reads like he’s sitting there offering suggestions, but is okay if you don’t want to take it. But why wouldn’t you?

I often tell people his writing, like Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry’s, draws me deep to the dirt, to the realness of things. I don’t think it’s just because we’re both from the Midwest that I feel it. In his poem, Splitting an Order, the couple sharing a sandwich in a diner could be any couple, anywhere.

Commenting on his writing, Kooser also told Contemporary Authors: “I write for other people with the hope that I can help them to see the wonderful things within their everyday experiences. In short, I want to show people how interesting the ordinary world can be if you pay attention.” ~ from Poetry Foundation

What a precious gift to people, whether one is a poet or not.

Here is Ted Kooser reading his poem, Abandoned Farmhouse, and others.

Here he reads Splitting an Order

To read more about Ted Kooser‘s work – he writes fiction, non-fiction and children’s books! – and his numerous accomplishments, including his years as United States Poets Laureate.

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