Poetry Review: “November 17” by Ted Kooser

winter-morning-walks-100-postcards-jim-harrison-ted-kooser-paperback-cover-artContinuing November’s poetic theme of poetry featuring stars, today’s poem comes from Ted Kooser’s enjoyable little volume, Winter Morning Walks: one hundred postcards to Jim Harrison.

The idea behind Winter Morning Walk is a simple one: a poetic journal of Kooser’s morning walks with his dog around his Nebraska home. The poems and the book are dedicated to poet/writer Jim Harrison.

Each poem in the volume is dated and prefaced with a weather report for that day. You picture Kooser coming in from the cold outside, sitting down at his kitchen table with a cup of coffee, and quickly scribbling a few notes to himself before heading off to more serious work.

Ted Kooser’s Nebraska is a place of great open space. This is probably why space plays such an important role in his poetry. The 100 small poems that make up Winter Morning Walks are haiku-like in their use of space and silence… each poem sitting on the clean white page like an isolated Nebraska farmhouse sitting on a section of Nebraska’s winter plain.

I love Kooser’s poetry. It resonates. It is spare and straight forward. It is the kind of poetry that I wish more people would write.

Enjoy!

November 17

Clouds to the west, clear in the east.

Older this morning, the moon,
hid most of her face behind a round gray mirror.

In a half-hour’s walk, I saw
six shooting stars. Celestial notes,
I thought, struck from the high end
of the keyboard.

 

Listening with a pencil and my ear, these are the lines I marked:

Older this morning, the moon,
hid most of her face behind a round gray mirror.

 

I saw
six shooting stars. Celestial notes,
I thought, struck from the high end
of the keyboard.

These separate lines/images have come to my mind often since first reading this poem. They are those kind of lines. The alliterated ‘m’ of morning, moon, most, and mirror and then the alliterated ‘s’ of saw, six shooting starsCelestial, and struck. Subtle but effective writing… pure Kooser.

 

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