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A rare book with universal appeal
on May 4, 2003
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.