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Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry, by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser

June 11, 2009 by Reader's Connection

Braided Creek

The poems that I’m reprinting here were written by either Jim Harrison or Ted Kooser. I don’t know which poem goes with which author.

They had always exchanged poems with their letters, and after Kooser was diagnosed with cancer, Harrison found that his friend’s poetry became “overwhelmingly vivid.” Their correspondence began to consist entirely of their brief poems.

Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry is published by Copper Canyon Press, who have granted permission to reprint . Within the book, the authorship of individual poems goes uncredited. As one of the poets explains, “Everyone gets tired of this continuing cult of the personality . . . This book is an assertion in favor of poetry and against credentials.” Here are some samples of their correspondence.

I want to describe my life in hushed tones
like a TV nature program. Dawn in the north.
His nose stalks the air for newborn coffee.

Straining on the toilet
we learn how
the lightning bug feels.

A nephew rubs the sore feet
of his aunt,
and the rope that lifts us all toward grace
creaks in the pulley.

A dozen dead houseflies,
bits of green glass from the bottle
of summer, smashed on the sill.

The crumpled candy wrapper
is just another flower
to the rain.

Black dog on white snow
beside the flooding, brown river.
This is where I live!

The butterfly’s brain,
the size of a grain of salt,
guides her to Mexico.

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