Though available, I read via an online reader copy of the poetry book A Man with a Rake by Ted Kooser. And due to the back of the book saying there are 18 poems inside (and the fact there did not seem to be a lot I read, though I did not count) I am assuming the physical book itself will look small. However, there is a lot packed inside. The symbols of water, rural life, family, death and so much more grace the pages. Straight forward “stories” are given that are not “artsy” but have lyrical language and internal imagery. Maybe some readers will feel it to be a bit romantic or romanticized, and it can be, but it also captures the times, places and the feelings of days gone by while staying in the present as well. Who knew you could write a poem about a water pump? Well, Ted Kooser did! Among other themes including the physical darkness of a decaying barn, and the image of a woman crossing the highway to get her mail, as well as the past long forgotten by anyone alive, except for the stories told.
These were the kind of poems I was looking for as lately the poetry I have read has gone the “artsy fartsy” way. The poems by Kooser were not too “flowery” or “artistic” and were not trying to get to the “deep dark meanings of life” in an “arrogant, uppity, seemingly educated manner” but Kooser is able to say those things and more. They are poetic and have a meaning without being condescending. Kooser talks to you, not at or over you. He is telling you how things are in a matter-of-fact no nonsense manner. Maybe they might seem it is only surface deep but they do go into the themes. The idea of rural America is not unknown to readers, especially poetry, but Kooser has his own take on things and wants to share it his way.
One part I like is that I knew what he was talking about. I could see the images without any actual illustrations such as the old woman crossing the road and the darkness of a falling down barn. I could hear the sounds of the water pump squealing and the bull bellowing out to the cows. Maybe this is because of my country background, but I would think even “city folk” will appreciate it. The other part I like is that each poem (with a couple exceptions) are short, but are not lacking in punch. They are easy to read, but not simple. They are Everyday Man and willing to let you enjoy this world, too.
Everything about this book was nice. I know people consider that a word that lacks substance, but this collection is anything but lacking.