Ann Haley

American Life in Poetry: Column 245

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I love the way the following poem by Susie Patlove opens, with the little rooster trying to “be what he feels he must be.” This poet lives in Massachusetts, in a community called Windy Hill, which must be a very good place for chickens, too.

Poor Patriarch

American Life in Poetry: Column 244

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Love predated the invention of language, but love poetry got its start as soon as we had words through which to express our feelings. Here’s a lovely example of a contemporary poem of love and longing by George Bilgere, who lives in Ohio.

Night Flight

CRRL Named Star Library

CRRL's most recent honor is a Star Rating. We've been ranked tops among Virginia libraries of our size, among the stellar libraries in the nation, in a recent ranking. Read all about it in Library Journal. STAR STATUS: “It is about what libraries deliver to their users with the money they have, based not only on circulation and visits, two typically standard measurements, but on program attendance and public Internet computer use, two statistics that more clearly define libraries' increasingly crucial role in their communities, especially in these tough economic times.” ~Library Journal 

American Life in Poetry: Column 243

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Lots of contemporary poems are anecdotal, a brief narration of some event, and what can make them rise above anecdote is when they manage to convey significance, often as the poem closes. Here is an example of one like that, by Marie Sheppard Williams, who lives in Minneapolis.


Everybody

American Life in Poetry: Column 242

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

There are lots of poems in which a poet expresses belated appreciation for a parent, and if you don’t know Robert Hayden’s poem, “Those Winter Sundays,” you ought to look it up sometime. In this lovely sonnet, Kathy Mangan, of Maryland, contributes to that respected tradition.

The Whistle

American Life in Poetry: Column 240

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We haven’t shown you many poems in which the poet enters another person and speaks through him or her, but it is, of course, an effective and respected way of writing. Here Philip Memmer of Deansboro, N.Y., enters the persona of a young woman having an unpleasant experience with a blind date.

The Paleontologist’s Blind Date

American Life in Poetry: Column 241

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I love poems in which the central metaphors are fresh and original, and here’s a marvelous, coiny description of autumn by Elizabeth Klise von Zerneck, who lives in Illinois.

Like Coins, November

We drove past late fall fields as flat and cold
as sheets of tin and, in the distance, trees

were tossed like coins against the sky. Stunned gold
and bronze, oaks, maples stood in twos and threes:

American Life in Poetry: Column 240

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We haven’t shown you many poems in which the poet enters another person and speaks through him or her, but it is, of course, an effective and respected way of writing. Here Philip Memmer of Deansboro, N.Y., enters the persona of a young woman having an unpleasant experience with a blind date.

The Paleontologist’s Blind Date

American Life in Poetry: Column 239

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

It’s likely that if you found the original handwritten manuscript of T. S. Eliot’s groundbreaking poem, “The Waste Land,” you wouldn’t be able to trade it for a candy bar at the Quick Shop on your corner. Here’s a poem by David Lee Garrison of Ohio about how unsuccessfully classical music fits into a subway.

Bach in the DC Subway

American Life in Poetry: Column 238

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Though some teacher may have made you think that all poetry is deadly serious, chock full of coded meanings and obscure symbols, poems, like other works of art, can be delightfully playful. Here Bruce Guernsey, who divides his time between Illinois and Maine, plays with a common yam.


Yam

The potato that ate all its carrots,
can see in the dark like a mole,

its eyes the scars
from centuries of shovels, tines.

May spelled backwards
because it hates the light,