Reading Room Blog

01/07/2010 - 9:36am

    Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah was in New York studying to be a doctor when the September 11th attacks took place.  When he returned to his native Kenya in 2002, he told the story of what happened to his unbelieving Maasai friends and family. 


“Buildings so tall they can touch the sky? Fires so hot they can melt iron? Smoke and dust so thick they can block out the sun?”  Appalled, the villagers wanted to do something for these poor Americans.  For the Maasai herders, cows are life, so they decided to donate a herd of fourteen cows to America, in a ceremony that brought tears to the eyes of the American ambassador.

01/04/2010 - 4:10pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I’m very fond of poems that demonstrate their authors’ attentiveness to the world about them, as regular readers of this column have no doubt noticed. Here is a nine-word poem by Joette Giorgis, who lives in Pennsylvania, that is based upon noticing and then thinking about something so ordinary that it might otherwise be overlooked. Even the separate words are flat and commonplace. But so much feeling comes through!

 

(Untitled)

01/04/2010 - 2:33pm

If you like magical realism, here are some titles you might enjoy:

"The New York Trilogy: City of Glass: Ghosts: The Locked Room"
by Paul Auster
A surrealist take on hard-boiled private eye mysteries. Fast-paced, puzzling and fun.

01/04/2010 - 11:12am

If you liked "Little Earthquakes" by Jennifer Weiner, you may also like these titles and authors:

"Some Nerve" by Jane Heller

12/28/2009 - 1:46pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

One of the wonderful things about small children is the way in which they cause us to explain the world. “What’s that?” they ask, and we have to come up with an answer. Here Christine Stewart-Nunez, who lives and teaches in South Dakota, tries to teach her son a new word only to hear it come back transformed.

 

Convergence

12/28/2009 - 1:44pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Many if not all of us have had the pleasure of watching choruses of young people sing. It’s an experience rich with affirmation, it seems to me. Here is a lovely poem by Tim Nolan, an attorney in Minneapolis.

 

At the Choral Concert

12/15/2009 - 2:15pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Family photographs, how much they do capture in all their elbow-to-elbow awkwardness. In this poem, Ben Vogt of Nebraska describes a color snapshot of a Christmas dinner, the family, impatient to tuck in, arrayed along the laden table. I especially like the description of the turkey.

Grandpa Vogt’s—1959

12/11/2009 - 11:32am

What is is about Jane Austen?  If you have read her books over and over and over, maybe you are ready to try something a little different.  Her stories have been re-told and re-imagined in prequels and sequels and in various time periods and settings.  Her characters even make literary appearances as zombies and vampires.  Browse our new booklist, Jane Austen Over and Over and Over.

12/07/2009 - 11:59am

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Childhood is too precious a part of life to lose before we have to, but our popular culture all too often yanks our little people out of their innocence. Here is a poem by Trish Crapo, of Leyden, Massachusetts, that captures a moment of that innocence.


Back Then

12/07/2009 - 11:55am

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I love the way the following poem by Susie Patlove opens, with the little rooster trying to “be what he feels he must be.” This poet lives in Massachusetts, in a community called Windy Hill, which must be a very good place for chickens, too.

Poor Patriarch

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