Nebraska Strikes Again

Today’s announcement of our new U.S. poet laureate, Ted Kooser, filled me with a state pride I haven’t felt…well, ever. Although he’s not a native Nebraskan in the strictest of senses (he was born in the lesser-known Iowa), he lives there now, and I have no doubt that he will represent the great Cornhusker state with the same panache that has characterized the already existing pantheon of Nebraskan cultural deities, which includes Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, Johnny Carson, Henry Fonda, Willa Cather, Darryl Zanuck, Malcolm X, and, of course, Dick Cavett (yes, Cornhuskers all…even if, come to think of it, they all did display an odd refusal to come back after they made it big…). Anyway, here are a few choice, bite-sized bits of Kooser’s work that even a non-indigene can appreciate: After Years, and Selecting a Reader. If, for some peculiar reason, you’re still feeling poetry-ish, here are two poems by a fella whose work kind of reminds me of Kooser’s, Stephen Dunn (a New Yorker, but there’s still a midwestern odor) “Biography in the First Person” and “I Come Home Wanting to Touch Everyone”. And perhaps just one more, a great poem about the midnight flaneur by the poet best known for his unfortunate appearances in commencement day speeches, Bobby Frost.