Wednesday, April 24, 2013

National Poetry Month - Ted Kooser

At the Cancer Clinic

She is being helped toward the open door 
that leads to the examining rooms 
by two young women I take to be her sisters. 
Each bends to the weight of an arm 
and steps with the straight, tough bearing 
of courage. At what must seem to be 
a great distance, a nurse holds the door, 
smiling and calling encouragement. 
How patient she is in the crisp white sails 
of her clothes. The sick woman 
peers from under her funny knit cap 
to watch each foot swing scuffing forward 
and take its turn under her weight. 
There is no restlessness or impatience 
or anger anywhere in sight. Grace 
fills the clean mold of this moment 
and all the shuffling magazines grow still. 

- Ted Kooser, Pulitzer Prize winner, U.S. Poet Laureate

When Serena of Savvy Wit and Verse put out the call for April posts in honor of National Poetry Month, I immediately knew I wanted to talk about Ted Kooser. Born in Ames, Iowa, Kooser received his Bachelor's degree at Iowa State University but when he moved to Nebraska to earn his Master's degree from the University of Nebraska, he had found his home. Kooser has done Nebraska proud, both nationally (serving as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004 - 2006) and in nurturing Nebraska talent. He has written twelve full volumes of poetry and won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2004 collection, Delights & Shadows.

One of the drawbacks of poetry for some people is that it's too hard to decipher what the poet is trying to say. Ted Kooser writes poetry that is approachable, understandable to all readers. When I read his poetry, it feels as though Kooser has plucked a moment of life up and written about it. This particular moment, At The Cancer Clinic, particularly speaks to me just now.

To learn more about Ted Kooser, his poetry, and his contributions to his work and his community, please visit his website.


  1. Wonderful poem; thanks for sharing it!

  2. Delights & Shadows is one of my favorite collections of all time...and I just adore his work. I'm so glad that his work speaks to you.

    Thanks so much for being on the tour.

  3. I think you've captured what it is that makes me hesitant to read more poetry--I try so hard to understand it and fall short much of the time.

    Thank you for sharing Ted Kooser's poem. I'm not familiar with his work, but I like the snippet you've shared. As you said, it's like a slice of life.

  4. This is a beautiful poem. I can picture the scene so vividly, and he has found nobility in such a small moment.

  5. That poem made me cry, and was beautiful. Not many people know this but a very good friend of mine passed away 2 months ago from breast cancer. This is what it was like every time we went for radiation. Thank you for posting this.

  6. I've never heard of this poet, but I really like the piece you posted. This is so approachable. Thanks.

  7. I loved this poem and really think I would be able to embrace this author!!!