“All of us dazzling in the brilliant slanting light”: Barbara Crooker’s “Strewn”

Not exactly right, but you get the idea.

Not exactly right, but you get the idea.

Last week, my uncle, who lives in Maine, came for a visit, which was excellent in all respects except that it was too short. And it just so happened that last week’s American Life in Poetry column, curated by Ted Kooser (which I highly recommend as a way to get into poetry–the poems are about the experiences of everyday life, and are always accessible) featured a poem by Barbara Crooker about the Maine coast.

“Strewn” is beautifully detailed. I love the list of broken shells that the speaker describes, and the idea of the sunlight on the beach like “a rinse / of lemon on a cold plate.” But it’s the turn at the end of the poem that brings the other people on the beach—and by extension the reader—into the speaker’s orbit that still resonates for me days after reading the poem.

“After snowstorms my father / shoveled the driveway where it lay”

snow footprintsA tip o’ the hat is due to Ted Kooser and the American Life in Poetry project for this week’s poem, because I don’t think I would have found it otherwise. Thomas R. Moore’s “Removing the Dross” is a poem about snow shoveling, particularly apropos given the arctic freeze in North America this week.

The speaker’s father has a particular method of shoveling, so precise that it reminded me of a Hemingway hero’s expertise in camping. The imagery, diction, and rhythm of the poem come together in a particularly satisfying way.

Let me know what you think! Favorite lines or images?

“I prove a theorem and the house expands:”

Rita Dove’s poem “Geometry” is one I’ve been saving for fall, because the title reminds me of school (sorry, Mrs. A, but your ninth-grade classroom is still the only place I’ve ever tried to prove a theorem).  As you might guess from its first line (reproduced in this post’s title), it’s about the feeling of expansion that comes when you stretch your mind over unfamiliar pathways.

Image Courtesy Grant Cochrane / Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy Grant Cochrane / Freedigitalphotos.net

You can find “Geometry” in Ms. Dove’s Selected Poems, and you can read more about the poet and her work at the Poetry Foundation.

By the by: A couple weeks ago I highlighted Tami Haaland’s poem “A Colander of Barley,” and Ted Kooser (Poet Laureate, 2004-2006) selected it this week for his “American Life in Poetry” series. I love getting a poem in my inbox every week; you can sign up here.