DELIGHTS & SHADOWS is the first poetry book I have read from cover-to-cover. What better way to start than with a Pulitzer Prize winner?
As a further disclaimer, I am neither a poet nor a habitual poetry reader. However, I do love to read within various genres and mediums; what I have found in Ted Kooser’s collection is a consistency of greatness. With few words, Kooser is able to communicate what many authors struggle to accomplish within entire novels. Kooser selects scenes or observations from everyday life and communicates them brilliantly. Who knew a poem about a faded tattoo on a septuagenarian at a garage sale would be so captivating?
My favorite poems in this volume are Kooser’s reflections at the cancer clinic and those memories he shares of his parents’ birthdays. Other readers may enjoy the four-part series written about the Civil War.
As someone looking in from the outside, I felt a few of Kooser’s shorter poems were a bit of a letdown. These are his poems that are one or two sentences in length, which are crafty and interesting, but didn’t resonate with the same meaning as his longer poems did.
Overall, I am very pleased I took this journey. Those demanding poetry that rhymes will be better served elsewhere. What is offered in DELIGHTS & SHADOWS is an economy of words yielding a fully expressional sense of awareness in both human understanding and material environment.
If you are a poetry reader and have any other recommendations for me, please leave them in the comments below (or message me directly). Otherwise, if you are also like me and a newer reader of poetry, you could start at worse places than this. Phenomenal.