New Poetry Feature!

Many of you are aware of my renewed interest in reading and writing poetry. One of the writers that has helped to reawaken in me this love for words is former Poet Laureate of the United States (2004-2006), Ted Kooser. I would urge anyone interested in reading good modern poetry to start with his Pulitzer Prize winning collection, Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). Another book of Kooser’s, The Poetry Home Repair Manual has been very helpful for me in honing my own work. Thanks in no small part to what I learned by studying it, two of my own poems will soon appear in print, my first (other than our local newspaper) publication.

One of the biggest, and perhaps farthest reaching, projects Ted Kooser began during his tenure as Laureate was the American Life in Poetry website and column. Apparently there was a day in the U. S. that newspapers were a frequent avenue of publication for poets of fairly large stature. Nowadays, of course, serious poetry is almost exclusively found in textbooks, literary magazines (whom among us actually reads those?), and, perhaps, church hymnals. Kooser, in an effort to make some of the more accessible modern poetry available to the average person, began producing a weekly column that newspaper and magazine editors (as well as bloggers!) could access and publish free of charge.

It is with great pleasure that I announce tonight that The O-Files will begin carrying this column each week. It is my hope that some out there will rediscover the joy of reading poetry, and that many more might discover it for the first time.

And so, without further ado, I give you . . .

American Life in Poetry: Column 135


What motivates us to keep moving forward through our lives, despite all the effort required to do so? Here, North Carolina poet Ruth Moose attributes human characteristics to an animal to speculate upon what that force might be.

The Crossing

The snail at the edge of the road
inches forward, a trim gray finger
of a fellow in pinstripe suit.
He’s burdened by his house
that has to follow
where he goes. Every inch,
he pulls together
all he is,
all he owns,
all he was given.

The road is wide
but he is called
by something
that knows him
on the other side.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2004 by Ruth Moose, whose most recent book of poetry is “The Sleepwalker,” Main Street Rag, 2007. Reprinted from “75 Poems on Retirement,” edited by Robin Chapman and Judith Strasser, published by University of Iowa Press, 2007, by permission of the author and publisher. Introduction copyright © 2007 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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