Poetry

01/12/2010 - 5:05pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

The poet Lyn Lifshin, who divides her time between New York and Virginia, is one of the most prolific poets among my contemporaries, and has thousands of poems in print, by my loose reckoning. I have been reading her work in literary magazines for at least thirty years. Here’s a good example of this poet at her best.

 

The Other Fathers

01/04/2010 - 4:10pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I’m very fond of poems that demonstrate their authors’ attentiveness to the world about them, as regular readers of this column have no doubt noticed. Here is a nine-word poem by Joette Giorgis, who lives in Pennsylvania, that is based upon noticing and then thinking about something so ordinary that it might otherwise be overlooked. Even the separate words are flat and commonplace. But so much feeling comes through!

 

(Untitled)

12/28/2009 - 1:46pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

One of the wonderful things about small children is the way in which they cause us to explain the world. “What’s that?” they ask, and we have to come up with an answer. Here Christine Stewart-Nunez, who lives and teaches in South Dakota, tries to teach her son a new word only to hear it come back transformed.

 

Convergence

12/28/2009 - 1:44pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Many if not all of us have had the pleasure of watching choruses of young people sing. It’s an experience rich with affirmation, it seems to me. Here is a lovely poem by Tim Nolan, an attorney in Minneapolis.

 

At the Choral Concert

12/15/2009 - 2:15pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Family photographs, how much they do capture in all their elbow-to-elbow awkwardness. In this poem, Ben Vogt of Nebraska describes a color snapshot of a Christmas dinner, the family, impatient to tuck in, arrayed along the laden table. I especially like the description of the turkey.

Grandpa Vogt’s—1959

12/07/2009 - 11:59am

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Childhood is too precious a part of life to lose before we have to, but our popular culture all too often yanks our little people out of their innocence. Here is a poem by Trish Crapo, of Leyden, Massachusetts, that captures a moment of that innocence.


Back Then

12/07/2009 - 11:55am

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

11/23/2009 - 2:17pm

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

11/17/2009 - 3:35pm

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

11/09/2009 - 11:11am

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

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