As holidays with my extended family arrive, so does the expectation of playing games. Whether in a pool, in the snow, in a gym, on the floor of a living room, or, especially, at the table. Ah! The evening table game. We’ve played everything from “Awkward Family Photos” to “Risk” to “Tenzi” to “Reverse Charades” to the incredible, mind-bending card game “Killer Bunnies”.
Your reader is right there on the other side of the table, politely and patiently listening to you.
—The Poetry Home Repair Manual
Dear Mr. Kooser,
I guess I’d say I’m a struggling young poet. Struggling in the sense that I’m still trying to figure out how to write poems. Young in the sense that I don’t have a book, yet. A poet in the way people call themselves poets until they’ve got a book, after which they generally just call themselves writers. I’m also a Midwestern boy, like yourself. Maybe that’s why your work has been resonating with me, lately. Or with a part of me.
The grammarian Roy Peter Clark refers to the semicolon as “a gate that stands between two thoughts, a barrier that forces separation but invites you to pass through to the other side.” It is a punctuation of subtlety that has plagued college freshmen for years. Wouldn’t a period be more succinct? A comma more enlarging?
The label “heretic” has such an interesting draw to it doesn’t it. It holds a special charm for a variety of reasons I think: it’s generally anti-conformist, anti-populist, and anti-status-quo. That makes it unique, and unique can be quite attractive. Since everybody wants to be unique – especially in a culture of conformity – what’s not to like about heresy. Plus, it’s not all bad either. T. S Eliot spoke of it more than once and in some cases of it as a good. Anyway, all that to say that a label of something being potentially heretical makes it … could I use the word “hot”?
Once our boys left home Bev and I were thrust into quick adjustments akin to riders just off the tilt-a whirl. Our stable orbits missed the gravity of their presence. The momentum of parenting doesn’t go away once you’ve spun your progeny off and into the world. So we rotated and balanced the tires, refurnished repainted rooms, re-sized the recipes and learned new steps.