Happy birthday, Ted Kooser! I read that today was his birthday and was pleased to read a few quotes about his approach to being a poet.
"I had a wonderfully happy childhood."
"All this business about artists having to have terrible childhoods doesn't play with me."
I started writing poetry, like him, as a teenager.
"I was desperately interested in being interesting. Poetry seemed a way of being different."
"I believe that writers write for perceived communities, and that if you are a lifelong professor of English, it's quite likely that you will write poems that your colleagues would like; that is, poems that will engage that community. I worked every day with people who didn't read poetry, who hadn't read it since they were in high school, and I wanted to write for them."
He's more disciplined about writing than I am - when he was a part time poet and full time worker, he would get up at 4:30, made a pot of coffee, and write until 7, put on his suit and tie and go to work. Result? 7 books by the time he retired.
He resigned himself to being a relatively unknown poet, but he continued to write every morning. Then, in 2004, he got a phone call informing him that he had been chosen as Poet Laureate of the United States.
"I was so staggered I could barely respond. The next day, I backed the car out of the garage and tore the rear view mirror off the driver's side."
As the Poet Laureate, he started a free weekly column for newspapers called "American Life in Poetry" that is still running.
Many of his poems have appeared on The Writers Almanac site. I like this one that fits in nicely with this post.
Walking to Work
Today, it's the obsidian
ice on the sidewalk
with its milk white bubbles
popping under my shoes
that pleases me, and upon it
a lump of old snow
with a trail like a comet,
probably falling in love,
all the way to the corner.
from Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press)