Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Braided Creek by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser

Braided Creek, A Conversation in Poetry contains the correspondence in poems between Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison during Ted Kooser’s diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This book was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2003 and while it does not stipulate who, specifically, wrote the poems, you can find plenty of insightful moments alongside basic every-day moments. You can also use a link provided below to listen to Ted Kooser’s interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air that includes his experiences with cancer, how he sent his poems on postcards to Mr. Harrison, and how he came to be a Poet Laureate. This collection was sent to me by my father-in-law but you can find it at your local library, book-store, and of course, on-line.

There are hundreds of short poems that range in their poignancy and immediacy of the surroundings and lifestyle of the poets. I think one of the first poems you encounter is descriptive of how a man dealing with his mortality might speak to a friend: “Old friend,/perhaps we work too hard/at being remembered.” I think this is true of writers in general but there is an added layer to its meaning when someone is diagnosed with cancer.

What I also find interesting as a reader is that depending on my own mood I am drawn to different poems. Certainly there are other collections of poems that do the same but this collection stands out more so than any others I’ve read. Some poems strike you in their simplicity: “Under the storyteller’s hat/are many heads, all troubled.” Others, for their open-ended ability to let you decide what it’s true meaning may be: “Old white soup bowl/chipped like a tooth,/one of us is always empty.”

Then there are the poems that make you smile or laugh, always wonderful to see mixed in with a collection such as this: “So what if women/no longer smile to see me?/I smile to see them!” or “Strange world indeed:/a poet keeping himself awake/to write about insomnia.”

Finally, there are poems that let your mind wander to your own memories: “At the tip of memory’s/great funnel-cloud/is the nib of a pen.” “Winter knows/when a man’s pockets/are empty.” And finally “An empty boat/will volunteer for anything.”

As I mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of poems and all of them worth pouring over. If you enjoyed this feature you can use the links below to learn more about Ted Kooser in his interview at National Public Radio or you may purchase the book yourself with the link to Amazon:

An Interview with Ted Kooser on NPR’s Fresh Air is linked below:

To purchase a copy of this book, please go to:

Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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