For many months now I’ve been liberally sprinkling this blog with excerpts from Braided Creek, the “conversation in poetry” that Ted Kooser co-authored with Jim Harrison. So can I claim credit for Kooser’s selection as the new Poetry Consultant to the Librarian of Congress? (I refuse to employ the new, overblown term “Poet Laureate” for an appointment that lasts a single year!)
Ted Kooser, like Wallace Stevens, made his career in the insurance industry. I believe this is the first time in many years that the Library of Congress has selected someone from outside academia.
Here’s a piece that speaks to me. This is from Kooser’s Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems (Pitt Poetry Press, 1980).
The plains ignore us,
but these mountains listen,
an audience of thousands
holding its breath
in each rock. Climbing,
we pick our way
over the skulls of small talk.
On the prairies below us,
the grass leans this way and that
words fly away like corn shucks
over the fields.
Here, lost in a mountain’s
attention, there’s nothing to say.