A couple of notes before I go out picking tonight. First, an article I found via Arts & Letters Daily concerning our Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, whose poetry I know not at all but which I want to read more everytime I read something about the man:
… his experience in the corporate world influences his literary work in surprising ways. His book "Sure Signs" (1980) opens with a poem called "Selecting a Reader." In it, Kooser describes the kind of audience he wants: a woman who weighs the choice of buying one of his books or having her dirty raincoat dry cleaned. The coat wins.
Now, years later, the poem reveals much about the new laureate. "I am still interested in acknowledging that the people who read books have other priorities, and I want to consider those. I want to write books of poems interesting enough and useful enough that they can compete with the need to get a raincoat cleaned."
Second, The New Yorker has a glowing review by Adam Kirsch of Richard Wilbur's new Collected Poems: 1943-2004. No living American poet even approaches the achievement of Richard Wilbur, and the only false note of the review is Kirsch's nod to the standard (and wrong) rap on Wilbur:
… while Wilbur goes on to invoke "Auschwitz' final kill," the poem ["On the Marginal Way"] does not take account of that evil in such a way that the memory of evil would affect the imagination of good.
And why should it? Do the particular forms of the evil we have known constrain our imagination of the good? I'm with Wilbur as Kirsch quotes him from a Paris Review interview:
To put it simply, I feel that the universe is full of glorious energy, that the energy tends to take pattern and shape, and that the ultimate character of things is comely and good. I am perfectly aware that I say this in the teeth of all sorts of contrary evidence, and that I must be basing it partly on temperament and partly on faith, but that is my attitude.