Splitting an Order is Ted Kooser’s long-awaited follow-up to Delights & Shadows, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. Voiced with his customarily warm, plainspoken tone, these poems plumb the depths of human connection and reveal an empathetic curiosity. The inner worlds and complex histories of ordinary people are witnessed in such everyday places as a car repair shop, a patch of small-town sidewalk, a parking garage, and a chain restaurant. Kooser extends his inquiries to the natural world and its creatures—bats, tree frogs, all manner of birds—finding wonder at every turn. “I have pushed aside some of my own fear,” he admits to an opossum, “to admire you.” And yet, strains of melancholy season the work, as Kooser meditates on love, loss, aging, and the small contentments that add up to his life.
A Meeting after Many Years
Our words were a few colorful leaves
afloat on a very old silence,
the kind with a terrifying undertow,
and we stood right at its edge,
wrapping ourselves in our own arms
because of the chill, and with old voices
called back and forth across all those years
until we could bear it no longer,
and turned from each other,
and walked away into our countries.
“Ted Kooser must be the most accessible and enjoyable major poet in America. His lines are so clear and simple.” —Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“Wisdom, compassion, and dignity continue to mark the poetry of Ted Kooser… Splitting an Order [is] a quiet collection that honors small victories and gives reasons to be hopeful.” —Elizabeth Lund, Christian Science Monitor
“Readers will find ‘characters’ both strange and wonderful, animal or human. There is a sense that time is passing quickly and that everything worthy must be captured and savored, from an old couple lovingly sharing a sandwich to another sowing seed potatoes to a tribute to an old dog who waits as age and winter approach… Master of the single-metaphor poem, Kooser offers images that evolve, fluid and unforced.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Former U.S. Poet Laureate Kooser’s long-awaited follow-up to 2005’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Delights and Shadows is a journey of intimacies, a stroll through lives and minds via common objects and quotidian occurrences, that brims over with small profundities and discoveries.” —Publishers Weekly