From the Publisher
Praise for Garrison Keillor:
"Keillor is very clearly a genius. His range and stamina alone are incredible . . . he has the genuine wisdom of a Cosby or Mark Twain." Slate
"America’s foremost humorist and social pundit . . . Keillor’s running commentary about the human condition has the uncanny ability to home in on the pulse of America." PBS
"Keillor has a way of reconciling seeming contradictions. A purveyor of all things folksy and down-home, he is a highly cultivated, worldly man." AARP
A companion volume of light verse for fans of the radio host's A Prairie Home Companion. All poetry depends on voice, even more so in this first collection of poetry by Keillor (Life Among the Lutherans, 2009, etc.), whose sonorous, incantatory tone would balance the whimsy of the page. The reader will likely hear the writer's voice in his ear when scanning this verse, and will recognize that these limericks, rhyming jokes and more bittersweet meditations are better consumed one by one than many at a single sitting. That same voice, of course, distinguishes Keillor's prose as well, underscoring everything from his attitude to his subject matter--the droll, deadpan delight in the thoroughly Midwestern perspective--but the imperative to rhyme (which almost all of these short poems do) gives him license to be a little sillier than usual. His template suggests the influence of Ogden Nash, fellow New Yorker writer (and Midwestern native) Calvin Trillin and Roy Blount Jr., but it also has plenty of Chuck Berry (including a mashup of Berry and a fellow St. Louis versifier on "T.S. Eliot Rock"), old blues songs and jazz standards, and bawdy ballads that don't seem so naughty when it is Keillor expressing "A sudden urge / to merge." And there are couplets that seem to exist simply for the sake of rhyme: "I'm not a Mormon, nor are you, / Neither was Harmon Killebrew." His verse takes him far from his native Minnesota, typically as the tourist in Seattle, San Francisco or Manhattan, while never forsaking his common-sense pragmatism or keen eye for the absurd. Readers drawn to this will know exactly what they are looking for, and they will find it.
Read an Excerpt
WHY I LIVE IN MINNESOTA
Where the temp gets down to thirty below
And it’s perfectly flat, miles of snow,
And you ask why I live in this desolate spot.
Because you do not.
You in loud clothes
With very big hair
And very big pickups
And not much upstairs,
Who whoop in church
And handle snakes
To prove their faith
For goodness sakes.
They slur their speech
Down in the South
As if they had cotton balls
Stuffed in their mouth.
The men hunt gators
Out in the marsh,
While the women stay home
And hang up the warsh
And tend to the babies,
And fix gator stew.
Now what if these people
Lived next door to you?
And the only thing
That keeps them away
Is the fact it will hit
Minus thirty today?
Winter's a challenge
But it can be faced
When you're among people
With brains and good taste.
BILLY THE KID
Billy the Kid
Didn’t do half of what they said he did
He rustled cattle, I guess that’s true,
But nobody knew who they belonged to.
He killed some men, maybe two or three,
But he was always real nice to me.
Billy the Kid went on the run
Down to Mesilla in 1881.
Sheriff Pat Garrett put on the heat
And came to the ranch of Billy’s friend Pete
But it wasn’t Billy who was shot by Pat,
It was someone wearing his pants and hat,
Billy the Kid was miles away
In Santa Fe with flowers in his hair
And I know cause I was there.
He made a fortune in fermented juices
And built a mansion in Las Cruces,
Changed his name to William Bonney
Wrote “Way Down Upon The Swanee”
And he may have been guilty to a degree
But he was always real good to me
And generous to my family.
Always sent us a Christmas turkey
And a box of chocolate candy
From down on the Rio Grande.
They called him a killer and I guess he could be
But he was always good to me.