It's Blue Monday in the blog, and "cruelest month" is the poem-a-day prompt. Rain has resumed, and we are in the last stretch of April, National Poetry Month. And it's Ted Kooser's birthday, one of our Poet Laureates of the United States.
I have three of Kooser's books, two inherited from Griff, a family friend who collected books and movies, his tiny apartment an overflowing library. Local Wonders, a sort of memoir on place, contains Griff's little yellow post-it notes and more elaborate notes on yellow lined paper, and Flying at Night has his characteristic pencil checkmarks and loopy marginalia beside the poems. Delights & Shadows is clean, and my own.
Today's Writer's Almanac quotes Kooser from an interview in Guernica Magazine, saying, about his "success"--I guess the success of being named Poet Laureate--"The image is this feeling like one of those telephone poles...on which a lot of notices have been stapled and then torn away, and they leave little triangles of paper, held by staples. On those notices were things lost and things found and the photos of people missing, and now even the photos are missing as a metaphor for what happens in life. All this experience is tacked upon us and then torn away, and we become a residue of this experience."
Competing in my head at this moment, the wry and cheerful "Sadder but Wiser" song from The Music Man, sung by Robert Preston, and "Genius Next Door," sung by Regina Spektor.
And this very short poem by Kooser, from Delights & Shadows:
All night, this soft rain from the distant past. No wonder I sometimes waken as a child.
"You must change your life," said Rilke. So that's what I keep doing. I worked as an actor and director in Chicago, wrote for an encyclopedia, edited two poetry journals, shelved and retrieved materials in several libraries, walked beans, and was an assistant professor of English. Now I serve as Poetry Editor and Editor at Large for Escape Into Life, an online arts magazine, write & edit as a freelancer, blog "eight days a week," study the random, tend perennials, and listen to birdsong.