Tuesday, April 23, 2013

National Poetry Month - Ted Kooser

At the Cancer Clinic

She is being helped toward the open door 
that leads to the examining rooms 
by two young women I take to be her sisters. 
Each bends to the weight of an arm 
and steps with the straight, tough bearing 
of courage. At what must seem to be 
a great distance, a nurse holds the door, 
smiling and calling encouragement. 
How patient she is in the crisp white sails 
of her clothes. The sick woman 
peers from under her funny knit cap 
to watch each foot swing scuffing forward 
and take its turn under her weight. 
There is no restlessness or impatience 
or anger anywhere in sight. Grace 
fills the clean mold of this moment 
and all the shuffling magazines grow still. 

- Ted Kooser, Pulitzer Prize winner, U.S. Poet Laureate

When Serena of Savvy Wit and Verse put out the call for April posts in honor of National Poetry Month, I immediately knew I wanted to talk about Ted Kooser. Born in Ames, Iowa, Kooser received his Bachelor's degree at Iowa State University but when he moved to Nebraska to earn his Master's degree from the University of Nebraska, he had found his home. Kooser has done Nebraska proud, both nationally (serving as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004 - 2006) and in nurturing Nebraska talent. He has written twelve full volumes of poetry and won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2004 collection, Delights & Shadows.

One of the drawbacks of poetry for some people is that it's too hard to decipher what the poet is trying to say. Ted Kooser writes poetry that is approachable, understandable to all readers. When I read his poetry, it feels as though Kooser has plucked a moment of life up and written about it. This particular moment, At The Cancer Clinic, particularly speaks to me just now.

To learn more about Ted Kooser, his poetry, and his contributions to his work and his community, please visit his website.

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