Wednesday, August 18, 2004

One of the best things our government ever did was create the position of U.S. poet laureate, consultant to the Library of Congress in poetry.

The naming of Nebraska's Ted Kooser, I think, is an interesting choice. A red state poet in a presidential election year. No, I'm not that cynical, but I agree with Billy Collins that "The middle section of the country needed greater poetic representation."

Its easy to go to New England, the west coast and even parts of the South and find poets, but naming a Cornhusker the poet laureate takes guts. Only one of Kooser's books is available at Timberland, one of the two published by Copper Canyon press of Port Townsend.

After Years
Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

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