Customer Reviews: Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry
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Every once in awhile a book of poetry comes along that speaks to the spirit and soul in an almost universal manner. One of those rare efforts you can read to a spouse, a friend or a neighbor and both of you will feel better from having simply heard the words. This is such a book.
Readers likely are familiar with Jim Harrison of Legends of the Fall fame. He has written twenty-five books, four of which have been produced as feature-length films. Ted Kooser lives is rural Nebraska and is a noted author in his own right. He has written eight books of poetry and a wonderful memoir, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps, which recounts his life in eastern Nebraska.
Harrison and Kooser were close friends and corresponded frequently over the years. In 1997 Kooser was diagnosed with cancer. Harrison noted his friend's poetry became "overwhelmingly vivid" during his recovery effort and it was decided that all future correspondence would be of short poems "because that was the essence of what we wanted to say to each other." This small book, just 85 pages, is the result.
Using epigrams and aphorisms in short verses of two to five lines the poets reminisce and explore such subjects as friendship, love, aging, death, dogs, wisdon, and the natural world. Some of my favorites are:
"Everyone thought I'd die
in my twenties, thirties, forties, fifties.
This can't go on forever."
"What if everyone you've loved
Were still alive? That's the province
of the young, who don't know it."
"That way a Springer spaniel
hops throught deep grass?
I was once a lover like that."
This is the rare book of poetry that will have universal appeal. It will speak to your heart, nudge your memory, reinvigorate your senses and provide a perspective that may have been lost. A rather tall order but this slim volume is up to the task. This is the kind of writing that gives poetry a good name.
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on April 14, 2005
Braided Creek was my introduction to Ted Kooser after hearing him interviewed and reading selected pieces of his work on the radio. He captured my attention. Braided Creek is a vehicle for sage conversation, discourse, disclosure and affection between pals Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison. The individual verse is short and haiku-like in its clarity and imagry. But for it being written by only two poets, it's very much like a Renga.

It's a wonderful addition to one's poetry shelf ... it's a fine gift.
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on April 3, 2007
This is a fun book devoid of the usual "I wrote this" egotism. Even the "about the poets" is a blend of both of these friends lives. These 85 pages of short, sometimes haiku-like, untitled poems range from the humorous ("Republicans think that all over the world/ darker-skinned people are having more fun / than they are. It's largely true".) To the short aphorism: "On every topographic map, / the fingerprints of God."

There are many explorations of aging that both of them share ("Getting older I'm much better at watching/ rain. I skip counting individual drops / in favor of the general feeling of rain."). Some of the poems of nature are reflective "The patience of the spider's web/ is not disturbed by dew." A very accessible collection.
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on December 29, 2014
Too much wisdom here to comment. Too much hurt to recycle. Too much beautiful poetry to share with anyone other than yourself. I read this at 3:12 a.m., thinking anything Kooser-related would allow me a return to peaceful sleep ("splitting an order" or "at the cancer clinic" allows for grace without pity). But I underestimated Harrison, whose dark reality would keep a drunkard awake. Jim, please stop making me face reality. Ted, thank you for providing the grace to accept it. Anyway , it 's nearly 5 a.m. now, one potential final hour before hot tea. So I will move on to some modernist like Auden or Eliot where the words don't cut as deeply.
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on June 28, 2007
Just when you begin to fear that text messaging and email have replaced real writing, that slogans and catch-phrases have replaced real thought, and that no one gives a damn about the English language any more... this wonderful book comes along to restore your faith and spirit!

Before I began to read it, it seemed odd to me that none of the poems are attributed. Once I started reading, I realized immediately that this was a wise and marvelous choice by these two. As one of them notes, "Everyone gets tired of this continuing cult of the personality... This book is an assertion in favor of poetry and against credentials."

I am enormously grateful to these two superb writers for allowing us to share a glimpse into their friendship and their thoughts. I'm giving it to everyone I know who deserves it.
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on March 28, 2007
There are not enough stars to truly rate this book. A year in the lives of two poets, correspondence in the form of short poems. That the individual poems are not attributed creates a deep sense of delight and concern. "At my age, even in airports, why would you wish, time to move faster." The next poem: "The clock stopped at 5:30 for three months. Now it's always time to quit work, have a drink, cook dinner." And after you read this book, find other books by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison. The rich offerings in "Braided Creek" allow us to see and feel and taste life at its most basic. I loved this book. Will read it many times.
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on March 6, 2015
"Braided Creek" reads like a series of aphorisms. These very short verses are arranged in an arresting sequence that is a mix of feelings, observations, experience, reflections and impressions. I had expected them to be a bit disjointed, since they were done by two people some distance apart, but Harrison and Kooser have a kind of remote telepathy, almost like they were reading each other's minds and changed one body for another.
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on January 3, 2007
And an interesting concept, correspondence in the form of brief poems exchanged by two poet/friends. Not everything here works, but enough does to make this a pleasure to read and reflect on.
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on September 23, 2013
I have loved this book for a long time. I don't currently own a hardcopy of it and needed to find a quote in it. The Kindle version is very poorly formatted. Buy a hardcopy. I have returned the Kindle version within minutes of purchase.
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on May 24, 2014
I am a child of the Great Lakes and the end of the Depression. Harrison speaks with my voice, my soul.
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