Ted Kooser, our most current Poet Laureate, writes some of the most accesible poetry around today. Reflective of his Midwestern origins, his poetry is lyrical and simple, beautiful and stunning. Just pick up any of one of his many books, and delve into his works to appreciate why he has earned this national honor. Kooser, teacher that he is, has responded in kind, and written for us a wonderful manual on the art of writing poetry, "The Poetry Home Repair Manual".
The subtitle of this work is "Practical Advice for Beginning Poets", but I daresay this book can be a guide for anyone interested in the art of poetry. I myself have dabbled in poetry since high school years, and I found this guide insightful. It allowed me to reflect upon my own work, illuminating what I've been doing well and supporting change in other areas. It also ignited a renewed interest in writing poetry, which had fallen off since a recent foray into screenwriting.
Kooser writes this non-fiction book like a poet would. There are some absolutely beautiful images that Koosher paints to elaborate his points. He describes the first few lines of a poem as an invitation to a houseguest, which we welcome into the poem for a short stay. These, and others, are indelible images that you can retain as you write.
Also, fortunately, Koosher shies away from long, arduous explanations on the mechanics of writing poetry. One of the ways to turn people off quicker to this writing is to demand an understanding of meter and rhyme. Koosher's discussion is quick and painless, kuch like tearing off a band-aid. He suggests focusing on emotions and memories, yet talks about the mechanics as a way to bring it to your awareness.
Kooser has given us a gift in this book. His inital discussion in the book about making poetry understandable is right on. So much of poetry is lost on the masses because the context of the poetry is lost on the reader. You know you should understand the poem, and appreciate it, but in reality, it's way beyond anyone besides scholars.. Kooser's book itself is a well-written, understandable kick-in-the-pants to everyone who loves poetry, both the reading and the writing of it.