When I was doing research on Ted Kooser for a piece I was writing, I stumbled on his America Life in Poetry Project. As I read more about the nature of the project, I realized that Ted is a bodhisattva – he gives back to the world – not only through teaching, writing, and his support of other writers, but by offering viable avenues to ensure the next generation of printed word maintains integrity.
You don’t have to be a poet to appreciate his great effort.
I am a big fan of writers and artists who are generous of spirit – those who give or have given back to the world without concern for themselves. Dan Wakefield , author of New York in the ’50s, teaches writing in the prisons. For me, he falls into this category. As do Alice Walker, Natalie Goldberg, and James Baldwin.
Quiet, compassionate determination to aid all beings. If you have men and women like this in your life, show them gratitude. It’s the greatest gift you can bestow.
You can sign up on the American Life in Poetry website to receive a poem a week in your inbox with a short intro by Ted. If you register, you can publish the poems in print or on your blog, as long as you include the copyright permissions and credit info.
Below is a little about the project, taken from the American Life in Poetry website. You can also click on the link for the full text.
The Poetry Foundation has formed a partnership with the Library of Congress to support the American Life in Poetry project, an initiative of Ted Kooser, the 2004-2006 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry, and we believe we can add value for newspaper and online readers by doing so. There are no costs or obligations for reprinting the columns, though we do require that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration, along with the complete copyright, permissions and credit information, exactly as supplied with each column.
“Newspapers are close to my heart and my family,” said Kooser, whose wife and son both work in journalism. “As Poet Laureate I want to show the people who read newspapers that poetry can be for them, can give them a chuckle or an insight.”
Poetry was long a popular staple in the daily press. According to Kooser, “Readers enjoyed it. They would clip verses, stick them in their diaries, enclose them in letters. They even took time to memorize some of the poems they discovered.”
In recent years poetry has all but disappeared from newsprint. Yet the attraction to it is still strong. Kooser observed that “Poetry has remained a perennial expression of our emotional, spiritual and intellectual lives, as witnessed by the tens of thousands of poems written about the tragedy of September 11 that circulated on the Internet.
Now I’m hoping to convince editors that there could be a small place in their papers for poetry, that it could add a spot of value in the eyes of readers. Best of all, it won’t cost a penny.”
-from American Life in Poetry
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, February 15th, 2007