This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features Iowa-born poet Ted Kooser reading his poem "Daddy Long Legs" at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Ted Kooser has said, “I write for other people with the hope that I can help them to see the wonderful things within their everyday experiences. In short, I want to show people how interesting the ordinary world can be if you pay attention.” In this poem, a spider in the basement provides a window into the soul. A poet and an essayist, Ted Kooser spent 35 years in the insurance business, before devoting himself to writing.
For a biography of the poet Ted Kooser, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.
In just three short lines, Kooser brings a creature to life, small and fast, familiar yet remote. We may see tiny creatures every day but know nothing about them. Kooser gives this Daddy Long Legs a mental life, an internal world, by saying that it moves quickly across the floor because it has a purpose—“a simple obsession”—but what makes it hurry and go out of sight?
It leaves Kooser thinking about his own internal life, his own ambitions and desires—his “secret dream”—that he keeps just as hidden inside himself as the Daddy Long Legs does. He builds both patience and tension. Kooser pictures his life as a floor to walk across and reveals that he longs to walk it “with an easy grace, and with love enough/to live on at the center of myself.” The “dead center” of the spider is contrasted with a person being centered, in touch with his thoughts and feelings, comfortable with himself, able to love and be loved. Kooser ends on this thought, standing in the basement long after the spider is gone.
Read a biography of the poet Ted Kooser at the Poetry Foundation Web site.
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