I am new student to poetry and must say I am not very fond of modern poetry. I was recently introduced to the US Poet Laureate of Ted Kooser (2004-6) whose free verse poems I immediately enjoyed — immediately and simply, with no effort.
I am reading “Delights & Shadows” and just started his book “The Poetry Home Repair Manual”. Below are quotes from his manual to which I have great sympathy and would like to share:
Poetry is communication, and every word I’ve written here subscribes to that belief. Poetry’s purpose is to reach other people and touch their hearts. If a poem doesn’t make sense to anybody but its author, nobody but its author will care a whit about it. That doesn’t mean that your poems can’t be cryptic, or elusive, or ambiguous if that’s how you want to write, as long as you keep in mind that there’s somebody on the other end of the communication. I favor poems that keep the obstacles between you and that person to a minimum. (pg xi)
Part of the reason for our country’s lack of interest in poetry is that most of us learned in school that finding the meaning of a poem is way to much work, like cracking a walnut and digging out the meat. Most readers have plenty to do that’s far more interesting than puzzling over poems. (pg 1-2)
My teacher and mentor, Karl Shapiro, once pointed out that the poetry of the twentieth century was the first poetry that had to be taught. (pg 2)
May I say, that when he wrote, “That doesn’t mean that your poems can’t be cryptic, or elusive, or ambiguous …” I think he was just being courteous or circuitously making his point. I hope to share more of Ted Kooser in the future.