Ted Kooser admits: He'll never get around to reading everything

A poet laureate faces the same challenge as all the rest of us: There's more great stuff to read than there is time to read it in.

Ted Kooser's latest poetry collection, 'Splitting an Order,' was published this fall.

Former US poet laureate Ted Kooser has two new books out this season – "Splitting An Order," his latest poetry collection from Copper Canyon Press, and "The Wheeling Year," selections from a writing notebook he's kept for years. Clearly, Kooser is doing his part to increase the supply of good things to read.

But in "The Wheeling Year, Kooser considers a dilemma of old age – the obvious reality that as time grows more limited, one will never get around to reading everything.

"As, in the dented spaceship of my seventies (shaking a little and leaking water), I travel the endless reaches of my ignorance, all the books I haven't read, and never will, come rolling at me out of the dark like a hail of asteroids," Kooser tells readers. "And now and then an entire library, with a glowing trail of checkout slips, just misses hitting me by inches. On board I carry what I know, a few thin volumes, mostly how-to books, survival guides, and, for my ancient ship, a manual of parts with no address to use when ordering. Oh, yes, and a handful of things I wrote myself, stuffed into the cracks around my window, open into time"

A deeply cosmic view of the reader's eternal challenge – more great stuff to read than time to read it.

With any luck, though, Kooser's fans will find the time this autumn to read "Splitting An Order" and "The Wheeling Year."

Danny Heitman, a columnist for The Advocate newspaper in Louisiana, is the author of "A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Ted Kooser admits: He'll never get around to reading everything
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today