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The Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser, has written a book called "The Poetry Home Repair Manual: practical advice for beginning poets." Mr. Kooser writes with honesty, cautioning the reader in the first sentence of the book, "You'll never be able to make a living writing poems."

Kooser is convinced that there's no money in writing poetry because, "...most of my neighbors, and most of yours, don't have any use for it." Unfortunately, according to the author, 99% of potential poetry readers are taught in school the finding the meaning in a poem is way too much work, "...like cracking a walnut and digging out the meat."

Ted Kooser is sixty-six. He's developed a reputation for writing short, metaphor-filled poems, that literally drip with detail. He was born in Ames, Iowa, and is the first Poet Laureate from the Great Plains. This slim book (163 pages), like his poetry, is informed by the authors' Midwestern sensibilities - I found Mr. Kooser's advice extremely clearheaded and accessible.

In the book's introduction, Kooser warns: "You'll find I pay lots of attention to a poet's relationship with readers. If you've gotten the impression from teachers or from reading comtemporary poetry that poets don't need to write with a sense of somebody out there who might read what they've written, this book is not for you."

Kooser now lives near the village of Garland, Nebraska. He's a visiting professor in the English Department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a retired insurance executive. He's the author of ten collections of poetry - most recently the Pulitzer Prize winning, "Delights and Shadows."

I found "The Poetry Home Repair Manual," and extremely interesting book - and I've begun to look at poetry in a very different way because of reading it. I would also like to recommend two other books about writing poetry: "In the Palm of Your Hand," by Steve Kowit, and "The Poet's Companion," by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux.




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The following comments are for "The Poetry Home Repair Manual."
by johnjohndoe

Not Bad
I've never heard of this Kooser guy, but I like what he said, the part about how chances are, your neighbor has no use for poetry. At least as it's written on the page.

I thought your piece was okay except it sounded too much like something you handed in as a school assignment. Even considering that, and let's say I happened to be your teacher, I would still give you an "A."

( Posted by: gomarsoap [Member] On: December 30, 2005 )

The Poetry Home Repair Manual
A- (Good book. OK poet.)

( Posted by: MountainBill [Member] On: January 3, 2006 )

This is an old post . . .
. . . but, it caught my eye.

We all have a use for poetry. While some might argue this point, most of what you hear on the radio IS poety, albeit set to music.

Lyrics ARE poems. Some rhyme. Some are freestyle. Some are bizarre and surreal.

A few of you might be familar with the work of a friend of mine, Ivy Queen. She is a Puerto Rican reggaeton singer. She considers herself a poet and a lyricist. She writes her own rhymes, as she calls them, and sets them to music. They are expressions of her soul in verse, performed to the joy and adoration of millions.

She considers herself, at her core, a poet.

Poetry IS very practical. Poetry IS very useful. And although the man who wrote this book might be a famous poet himself, I hold in suspect anyone who says "chances are, your neighbor has no use for poetry."

But, what do I know? I myself am not a poet.

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: November 14, 2008 )





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