Delights & Shadows

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Overview

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Ted Kooser, who served as United States Poet Laureate (2004–2006), is a poet who works toward clarity and accessibility, so that each distinctive poem appears to be as fresh and bright and spontaneous as a good watercolor painting. He is a haiku-like imagist who imbues his poems with "tender wisdom,” and draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life.

Praise ...

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Delights & Shadows

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Overview

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Ted Kooser, who served as United States Poet Laureate (2004–2006), is a poet who works toward clarity and accessibility, so that each distinctive poem appears to be as fresh and bright and spontaneous as a good watercolor painting. He is a haiku-like imagist who imbues his poems with "tender wisdom,” and draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life.

Praise for Delights and Shadows:

"Ted Kooser...has a genius for making the ordinary sacred."—The New York Times

"A sense of wonder and compassion runs through this Pulitzer Prize winning volume… Kooser's poetry is understated yet manages to skillfully illuminate the small moments of life."—Christian Science Monitor

"[Kooser] brushes poems over ordinary objects, revealing metaphysical themes that way an investigator dusts for fingerprints. His language is so controlled and convincing that one can't help but feel significant truths behind his lines."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"There is a sense of quiet amazement at the core of all Kooser's work, but it especially seems to animate his new collection of poems, Delights & Shadows. Every delight is shadowed by darkness in this book of small wonders and hard dualisms."—Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post

"Delights and Shadows is a book with a deep stillness at its center, perfectly self-contained."—Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times

"Kooser's ninth collection of poems reflects the simple and remarkable things of everyday life. That he often sees things we do not would be delight enough, but more amazing is exactly what he sees. Nothing escapes him; everything is illuminated….Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"Few poets depict the Midwest so accurately or with such tender regard... Kooser excels at the brief, imagistic poem."—The Kansas City Star

"Delights and Shadows raises the voice of the poet above everything else. Each short, vivid poem on the page reads as if it were being spoken aloud. Details about cemeteries, dictionaries, a doctor's waiting room, and a jar of buttons bristle with sound and awareness. Kooser's ability to use brief lyrics to compose a music of discovery and regeneration makes his work radiant and consuming... This is not an extended, complex or experimental kind of writing, but poetry that rings true, allowing the human sound of being to exist on the page."—Bloomsbury Review

"Here is the gift and fragility of life."—The Wichita Eagle

"Kooser is a master of the subjective description. Empathetic without sentimentality, his eye ranges over all sorts of everyday subjects and finds material everywhere… wherever the unpredictable particularity of the world can be glimpsed… Perhaps Kooser’s success lies in his determination to see the… things of this world with such clarity and passion that their underlying mysteries, delights, and shadows also become clear, if only for a moment."—The Georgia Review

"You can almost see Kooser behind the poems, watching the world like a sketch artist… Kooser displays the same kind of fluid strokes Degas used in his ballet pictures...He is an exquisite miniaturist of daily life."—The Hartford Courant

"The poet finds magic in activities and objects typically considered mundane... Metaphors are the treasure of these short, imagistic poems, emphasizing the wonder and delight latent in what is often merely taken for granted."—Harvard Review

"Kooser has written more perfect poems than any poet of his generation." —Dana Gioia

"Kooser is straightforward, possesses an American essence, is humble, gritty, ironic and has a gift for detail and a deceptive simplicity."—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

As Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser launched the weekly poetry column "American Life in Poetry," which appears in over 100 newspapers nationwide. He is the author of ten books of poems, including the collaboration with Jim Harrison, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (isbn 9781556591877).

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Retired life insurance executive Ted Kooser is better known as the author of Sure Signs and nine other books of poems, as well as of the recent memoir Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemia Alps than for policies sold. Divided into four sections, these 59 poems take us from time "Walking on Tiptoe" and "At the Cancer Clinic" to "A Jar of Buttons," "A Box of Pastels" and "A Glimpse of the Eternal": "Just now,/ a sparrow lighted/ on a pine bough/ right outside/ my bedroom window/ and a puff/ of yellow pollen/ flew away." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"There are days when the fear of death/ is as ubiquitous as light. It illuminates/ everything." Kooser's world is indeed illuminated, though more by an awareness of mortality and the importance of every moment. Here it illuminates a ladybug beetle but elsewhere shirts and slacks, "a bank of threatening clouds/ that hang from a pipe between two ladders" at a yard sale, the small town set in an abandoned mini golf course or simply a quartz pebble he notices by the toe of his boot. "I held it to the light/ and could almost see through it/ into the grand explanation." Kooser's ninth collection of poems (e.g., Local Wonders) reflects the simple and remarkable things of everyday life. That he often sees things we do not would be delight enough, but more amazing is exactly what he sees. Nothing escapes him; everything is illuminated. There is much to celebrate in these small-town poems about small-town people and a reminder to all of us how America's voice and warm wisdom resonate from the middle. Highly recommended.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556592010
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2004
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 290,785
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Kooser

As Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser launched the weekly poetry column "American Life in Poetry," which appears in over 100 newspapers nationwide. He is the author of ten books of poems, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Delights & Shadows. He lives in Nebraska.

Good To Know

Kooser revealed some interesting facts about himself in our interview:

"I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a young man, but realized that I'd have to make a living somehow. I tried high school teaching but was incapable of maintaining discipline in the classroom and the students ran right over me. In 1964, after being tossed out of graduate school because I was a completely undisciplined scholar, I went to work at an "entry level" job in a life insurance company and over twenty five years was gradually elevated to a vice presidency.

During those years I wrote every morning from 5:30 till about 7:00. I never saw myself as an insurance executive, but rather as a writer in need of a paying job."

"I love living in rural America, away from the noise and clamor of the city, and I am completely content to go all week without speaking to anyone but my wife and my dog. My wife, Kathleen Rutledge, is the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star, the daily newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska, and she helps keep me up on the news. I rarely leave home unless I can't find a good excuse not to go.

I write and paint and do chores around the farm, and am immensely thankful for every new day."

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    1. Hometown:
      Garland, Nebraska
    1. Date of Birth:
      1939
    2. Place of Birth:
      Ames, Iowa
    1. Education:
      B.S., Iowa State University, 1962; M.A., University of Nebraska, 1968

Table of Contents

Walking on tiptoe 5
Tattoo 6
At the cancer clinic 7
Student 8
Gyroscope 9
New cap 10
Cosmetics department 11
Biker 12
The old people 13
In January 14
A rainy morning 15
Mourners 16
Skater 17
The China painters 21
Memory 22
Ice cave 24
Mother 25
A jar of buttons 27
Dishwater 28
Depression glass 29
Zenith 30
The necktie 31
Applesauce 32
Creamed corn 34
Flow blue China 35
Father 36
Pearl 37
Old cemetery 41
A winter morning 42
Bank fishing for bluegills 45
Four Civil War paintings by Winslow Homer 46
Turkey vultures 51
Pegboard 52
At the county museum 53
Casting reels 55
Horse 56
Praying hands 57
Lobocraspis Grisefusa 58
Home medical dictionary 59
In the Hall of Bones 60
A Jacquard shawl 61
Telescope 62
A box of pastels 63
Old lilacs 64
Grasshoppers 65
The beaded purse 66
That was I 71
Screech owl 73
A spiral notebook 74
The early bird 75
Starlight 76
On the road 77
A washing of hands 78
After years 79
Garage sale 80
Surviving 81
A glimpse of the eternal 82
Tectonics 83
A happy birthday 84
About the author 87
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2005

    Need some insight on everyday life?

    This book of poetry had so much insight into things that we all feel, but do not neccesarily take note of. It is a must-read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2005

    Easy to just fall into dream mode

    I love poetry and I can see why this book has won the Pulitzer price. I have enjoyed this piece of work a lot, and I know you will too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2005

    The Gift to be Simple

    Somewhere in our critical language the word 'simple' gained negative connotations, as though the word should be hyphenated with suffixes like simpleminded, simpleton, etc. Ted Kooser has resurrected the true meaning of that word and uses it with grace and aplomb in his poetry and his prominence in the arena of American Poets (he is the Poet Laureate of the United States) proves that his creative decision has been correct.DELIGHTS & SHADOWS is a brilliant collection of his recent poems and for those unfamiliar with Kooser's writing, this small book is an excellent starting point. Kooser takes the most mundane 'simple' topics, observes them, mulls them like brewing a pot of tea and then serves them back to us in the quietest, leanest way, a manner that causes pause. And if ever a poet defined his reason in a word for writing, 'pause' would be high on the list.He can be gut wrenchingly poignant as in FATHER 'Today you would be ninety-seven/if you had lived, and we would all be/miserable, you and your children,/driving from the clinic..........I miss you every day - the heartbeat/under your necktie, the hand cupped/on the back of my neck, Old Spice/in the air, your voice delighted with stories./On this day each year you loved to relate/that at the moment of your birth/your mother glanced out the window/and saw lilacs in bloom. Well, today/lilacs are blooming in side yards/all over Iowa, still welcoming you.' No lovelier eulogy could be imagined from a son for his father.Kooser writes of Flow Blue China, cancer clinics, tattoos, starlight, grasshoppers - and so many more of the unnoticed beauties that pry into the cracks of our crowded lives. Reading Ted Kooser is a reorienting experience, one that is a powerful, quiet salve.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2005

    Poetic Wonderfulness

    Ted Kooser writes about the world, the essence of all that we see and feel. He can turn a phrase, unlike most of the poets today who simply fail at blank verse. This is a very accessible collection, readable by those of every circumstance and background.

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    Posted May 28, 2011

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    Posted October 30, 2008

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