Friday, December 31, 2004

682 Nebraskan chosen Poet Laureate

Next to my own family, I've known Nelson (Tom) longer than just about anyone else on my Christmas card list. We used to ride our tricycles around the block together, and had our photo taken together at graduation for the school yearbook. His Christmas letter this year mentioned that 26 years ago he asked a friend, a local poet, to write a wedding poem for him and bride Kathy (a librarian). Now that friend, Ted Kooser, has been appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. I'd say Nelson had a good sense for poetry (he is a philosopher) to recognize this man's talent a quarter a century ago. Library of Congress announcement here.

The Washington Post article states: "Kooser, says former poet laureate Billy Collins, "is a poet who has deserved to be better known. This appointment will at least take care of that problem."

Collins says Kooser is distinguished from the rank and file by two things. First, Kooser has spent most of his life in the corporate world. "I won't be the first or the last to compare him to Wallace Stevens," says Collins, referring to the sublime Connecticut poet who was also an insurance executive.

And Kooser is from the Midwest. Collins suggests that Kooser's appointment is "an intentional pick." He says, "The middle section of the country needed greater poetic representation."

Kooser, he adds, "is a thoroughly American poet laureate."

Enjoy three poems by Ted Kooser.

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