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A most considerate poet

I just saw a 1999 quote by Ted Kooser taken from a piece in the Midwest Quarterly. It reminded me why this former US poet laureate is so easy to love.

“Every stranger’s tolerance for poetry is compromised by much more important demands on his or her time,” says Kooser.

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“Therefore, I try to honor my reader’s patience and generosity by presenting what I have to say as clearly and succinctly as possible .... Also, I try not to insult the reader’s good sense by talking down; I don’t see anything to gain by alluding to intellectual experiences that the reader may not have had.

"I do what I can to avoid being rude or offensive; most strangers, understandably, have a very low tolerance for displays of pique or anger or hysteria. Being harangued by a poet rarely endears a reader.

"I am also extremely wary of over cleverness; there is a definite limit to how much intellectual showing off a stranger can tolerate.”

To read the Monitor’s review of “Valentines,” Kooser’s new book of love poems, click here.