Sibling Assignment #40: Moments of Everyday Life

This is the sibling assignment I gave this week. "Think of a poet that has inspired your writing, your thinking, and/or your view of the world. Use your words, the poet’s words, and images to illustrate how this poet has influenced your life." Raymond Pert's is here, Silver Valley Girl's will be here.
I focus on significant events when writing memoir. It may be a room from childhood, a garden at Grandma’s house, or a Thanksgiving dinner. Ted Kooser has changed the way I write about these memories. His poetry takes moments of everyday life and creates lyrical images using topics we can all relate to: a dying father, a cancer patient, or a farmer that lost his land. He chooses his words carefully so we are at the farmhouse, his grandmother’s kitchen, or out in a rainy morning. His words have inspired me to observe quiet moments in a poetic way. In his book The Poetry Home Repair Manual he states, “While you sit quietly scribbling into your notebook, memories and associations rise like bubbles out of the thick mud of your mind. Interesting words pop up, colorful images.” Here are some examples his words:

"It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
with a morning light so bright
you can’t see beyond its windows
into the afternoon. A kitchen
falling through time with its things”
A Room in the Past

”She is being helped toward the open door
that leads to the examining rooms
by two young women I take to be her sisters.
Each bends to the weight of an arm
and steps with the straight, tough bearing
of courage.”
At the Cancer Clinic

After Kooser was chosen the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 – 2006 he began American Life in Poetry. This weekly newspaper column has allowed me to read other contemporary poets, has provided a collection to use in teaching and it has introduced readers in America a poem each week.
I began to write memoir so I could begin to understand the connections in my life and the family around me. Ted Kooser writes about those delicate connections. In announcing his appointment as Poet Laureate, Librarian of Congress James Billington said, "Ted Kooser is a major poetic voice for rural and small town America and the first Poet Laureate chosen from the Great Plains. His verse reaches beyond his native region to touch on universal themes in accessible ways." Ted Kooser helped me go back to my small town and make sense of the images, words, and stories. For that I have been inspired and grateful.
There are many poems of his that I love. The one I am sharing in this assignment is The Spiral Notebook from Delights and Shadows which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2005.

A Spiral Notebook
The bright wire rolls like a porpoise
in and out of the calm blue sea
of the cover, or perhaps like a sleeper
twisting in and out of his dreams,
for it could hold a record of dreams
if you wanted to buy it for that,
though it seems to be meant for
more serious work, with its
college-ruled lines and its cover
that states in emphatic white letters,
a part of growing old is no longer
to have five subjects, each
demanding an equal share of attention,
set apart by brown cardboard dividers,
but instead to stand in a drugstore
and hang on to one subject
a little too long, like this notebook
you weigh in your hands, passing
your fingers over its surfaces
as if it were some kind of wonder.
Ted Kooser
"Remember that the greatest pleasures of writing are to be found in the process itself. Enjoy paying attention to the world, relish the quiet hours at your desk, delight in the headiness of writing well and the pleasure of having done something as well as you can." Ted Kooser

I am going to take his advice and focus on one subject at a time and do it as well as I can. You can learn more about Ted Kooser here. You can learn more about American Life in Poetry here.


  1. I LOVE this post!

    My favorite writing - poetry or prose, elevates the simple things of life, notices them, treats them as sacred.

    I'm so glad to be introduced to Kooser's work. I had read some, but will definitely find more.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I think you will find yourself relating to so many of his poems.


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