Cover image for Delights & shadows : poems
Delights & shadows : poems
Kooser, Ted.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Port Townsend, Wash. : Copper Canyon Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 87 pages ; 23 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.3 1.0 108966.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3561.O6 D45 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Ted Kooser, who served as United States Poet Laureate (2004-2006), is a poet who works toward clarity and accessibility, so that each distinctive poem appears to be as fresh and bright and spontaneous as a good watercolor painting. He is a haiku-like imagist who imbues his poems with "tender wisdom," and draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life.

Praise for Delights and Shadows :

"Ted Kooser...has a genius for making the ordinary sacred."-- The New York Times

"A sense of wonder and compassion runs through this Pulitzer Prize winning volume... Kooser''s poetry is understated yet manages to skillfully illuminate the small moments of life."-- Christian Science Monitor

"[Kooser] brushes poems over ordinary objects, revealing metaphysical themes that way an investigator dusts for fingerprints. His language is so controlled and convincing that one can''t help but feel significant truths behind his lines."-- The Philadelphia Inquirer

"There is a sense of quiet amazement at the core of all Kooser''s work, but it especially seems to animate his new collection of poems, Delights & Shadows. Every delight is shadowed by darkness in this book of small wonders and hard dualisms."--Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post

" Delights and Shadows is a book with a deep stillness at its center, perfectly self-contained."--Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times

"Kooser''s ninth collection of poems reflects the simple and remarkable things of everyday life. That he often sees things we do not would be delight enough, but more amazing is exactly what he sees. Nothing escapes him; everything is illuminated....Highly recommended."-- Library Journal

"Few poets depict the Midwest so accurately or with such tender regard... Kooser excels at the brief, imagistic poem."-- The Kansas City Star

" Delights and Shadows raises the voice of the poet above everything else. Each short, vivid poem on the page reads as if it were being spoken aloud. Details about cemeteries, dictionaries, a doctor''s waiting room, and a jar of buttons bristle with sound and awareness. Kooser''s ability to use brief lyrics to compose a music of discovery and regeneration makes his work radiant and consuming... This is not an extended, complex or experimental kind of writing, but poetry that rings true, allowing the human sound ofbeing to exist on the page."-- Bloomsbury Review

"Here is the gift and fragility of life."-- The Wichita Eagle

"Kooser is a master of the subjective description. Empathetic without sentimentality, his eye ranges over all sorts of everyday subjects and finds material everywhere... wherever the unpredictable particularity of the world can be glimpsed... Perhaps Kooser''s success lies in his determination to see the... things of this world with such clarity and passion that their underlying mysteries, delights, and shadows also become clear, if only for a moment."-- The Georgia Review

"You can almost see Kooser behind the poems, watching the world like a sketch artist... Kooser displays the same kind of fluid strokes Degas used in his ballet pictures...He is an exquisite miniaturist of daily life."-- The Hartford Courant

"The poet finds magic in activities and objects typically considered mundane... Metaphors are the treasure of these short, imagistic poems, emphasizing the wonder and delight latent in what is often merely taken for granted."-- Harvard Review

"Kooser has written more perfect poems than any poet of his generation." --Dana Gioia

"Kooser is straightforward, possesses an American essence, is humble, gritty, ironic and has a gift for detail and a deceptive simplicity."-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

As Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser launched the weekly poetry column "American Life in Poetry," which appears in over 100 newspapers nationwide. He is the author of ten books of poems, including the collaboration with Jim Harrison, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (isbn 9781556591877).

Author Notes

As Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser launched the weekly poetry column "American Life in Poetry," which appears in over 100 newspapers nationwide. He is the author of ten books of poems, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Delights & Shadows. He lives in Nebraska.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Like Kentucky's Wendell Berry, Kooser is a poet of place. But just as Kooser's eastern Nebraska is more modestly impressive than Berry's lush, riverine Kentucky, Kooser's poetry is more restrained than Berry's. Kooser is less big-C culturally concerned, less anxious about the destiny of nation and world. Kooser carries religion far more lightly; he envisions faith passing as casually from door to door as a pair of plaster or plastic Praying Hands en route to every thrift shop in America. Having survived a major health crisis, Kooser is warier of death; in Surviving he writes of days when the fear of death / is as ubiquitous as light, extending even to the ladybird beetle, paralyzed when the fear of death, so attentive / to everything living, comes near. Though he focuses as often as Berry on memories, Kooser is less historically and more personally conscious in his poems of recollection. And Berry has come up with no finer metaphor than that of Kooser's Memory, in which recall is a benignly ruthless tornado. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Retired life insurance executive Ted Kooser is better known as the author of Sure Signs and nine other books of poems, as well as of the recent memoir Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemia Alps than for policies sold. Divided into four sections, these 59 poems take us from time "Walking on Tiptoe" and "At the Cancer Clinic" to "A Jar of Buttons," "A Box of Pastels" and "A Glimpse of the Eternal": "Just now,/ a sparrow lighted/ on a pine bough/ right outside/ my bedroom window/ and a puff/ of yellow pollen/ flew away." (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"There are days when the fear of death/ is as ubiquitous as light. It illuminates/ everything." Kooser's world is indeed illuminated, though more by an awareness of mortality and the importance of every moment. Here it illuminates a ladybug beetle but elsewhere shirts and slacks, "a bank of threatening clouds/ that hang from a pipe between two ladders" at a yard sale, the small town set in an abandoned mini golf course or simply a quartz pebble he notices by the toe of his boot. "I held it to the light/ and could almost see through it/ into the grand explanation." Kooser's ninth collection of poems (e.g., Local Wonders) reflects the simple and remarkable things of everyday life. That he often sees things we do not would be delight enough, but more amazing is exactly what he sees. Nothing escapes him; everything is illuminated. There is much to celebrate in these small-town poems about small-town people and a reminder to all of us how America's voice and warm wisdom resonate from the middle. Highly recommended.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

I. Walking on Tiptoe
Walking on Tiptoep. 5
Tattoop. 6
At the Cancer Clinicp. 7
Studentp. 8
Gyroscopep. 9
New Capp. 10
Cosmetics Departmentp. 11
Bikerp. 12
The Old Peoplep. 13
In Januaryp. 14
A Rainy Morningp. 15
Mournersp. 16
Skaterp. 17
II. The China Painters
The China Paintersp. 21
Memoryp. 22
Ice Cavep. 24
Motherp. 25
A Jar of Buttonsp. 27
Dishwaterp. 28
Depression Glassp. 29
Zenithp. 30
The Necktiep. 31
Applesaucep. 32
Creamed Cornp. 34
Flow Blue Chinap. 35
Fatherp. 36
Pearlp. 37
Old Cemeteryp. 41
A Winter Morningp. 42
III. Bank Fishing for Bluegills
Bank Fishing for Bluegillsp. 45
Four Civil War Paintings by Winslow Homerp. 46
Turkey Vulturesp. 51
Pegboardp. 52
At the County Museump. 53
Casting Reelsp. 55
Horsep. 56
Praying Handsp. 57
Lobocraspis griseifusap. 58
Home Medical Dictionaryp. 59
In the Hall of Bonesp. 60
A Jacquard Shawlp. 61
Telescopep. 62
A Box of Pastelsp. 63
Old Lilacsp. 64
Grasshoppersp. 65
The Beaded Pursep. 66
IV. That Was I
That Was Ip. 71
Screech Owlp. 73
A Spiral Notebookp. 74
The Early Birdp. 75
Starlightp. 76
On the Roadp. 77
A Washing of Handsp. 78
After Yearsp. 79
Garage Salep. 80
Survivingp. 81
A Glimpse of the Eternalp. 82
Tectonicsp. 83
A Happy Birthdayp. 84
About the Authorp. 87