These rugs aren’t shawls and they sure aren’t jacquard, but they are blue and they are woven (though surely not by hand), so here landed Ted Kooser’s poem.
When I read this poem I find myself rubbing my fingers together as if a shawl were between them, as if by feeling the shawl I connect myself with a history, as if by connecting myself with a history I connect myself to other living beings, the sheep, the dogs, the weaver. I love this poem, I’ve loved it for a long time, and I hope the rug shopper who finds it loves it too.
Ted Kooser is a favorite here at Poem Elf. Here’s a short bio from a previous post:
Kooser is something of an ambassador for getting poetry in the hands of “regular” readers. He writes a free column for newspapers (American Life in Poetry), and started a publishing company, Wildflower Press (no longer operating) to circulate contemporary poets. He strikes me as a lovely man whose ambition is not to enrich his life with literary success but for literature to enrich other people: “I write for other people,” Kooser says, “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.”
Ted Kooser comes from and lives in the ordinary, un-rarified world of the Great Plains. He was born in 1939 in Iowa and has lived most of his life in Nebraska. He began his career as a high school teacher but worked most of his career as a vice president at a life insurance company. Here’s a wonderful fact about Kooser: he flunked out of a graduate writing program (I’m not sure how you do that) which didn’t prevent him from becoming the Poet Laureate from 2004-06. His work is deemed “accessible,” and therefore has received less critical attention than it deserves.