From Publishers Weekly
In 1986, Kooser (U.S. poet laureate 2004–2006) started a tradition. He sent a Valentine's Day poem on a postcard to 50 women. Over the past 30 years, he's sent his annual poem to an increasing number of women (in 2007 there were 2,600 recipients). This collection presents all the postcard poems plus one more, dedicated to Kooser's wife, Kathleen. Accompanied by drawings by Robert Hanna, each poem is a unique snapshot of love. The poet says it best himself: all my life, I have wanted nothing so much as the love of women. (Feb.)
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Even the best things come to an end, and a better end than this little book to Kooser’s 21-year practice of sending a Valentine’s Day poem to, first, 50 female friends and, eventually, all the women who asked for it (some 2,600 at last count) is hard to imagine. He wrote for fun, he says, as well as affection, and although “all my life I have wanted nothing so much / as the love of women,” flirtatiousness is as erotic as these poems get. Most etch incidents of loving companionship, patent in the poem about an old man cutting a sandwich in half for his wife and himself, understood in the one about feeling a bond with garbage men extracting good flowers from a florist’s trash. Because Kooser is a master of such unpretentious scene-painting, these are poems of rich, Wordsworthian common feeling. They’ve nearly all appeared in Kooser’s previous collections, but especially as accompanied by Robert Hanna’s drawings, one per poem, of Kooser’s rural Nebraskan homeland, they’ve never seemed more like godsends—or valentines. --Ray Olson