Friday, April 26, 2013

Creativity Tips: A Lesson from Ted Kooser

Every morning when I check email, I have delightful offerings for the ULTIMATE CAMI! and aids that will CURE SNORING! and at least one or two URGENT tracking notices from a fake FedEx.

On the bright side, I also find a legitimate email from The Writers Almanac, a delightful service that sends me a poem every morning along with fascinating literary tidbits.

Yesterday's email included a story on Ted Kooser, the U.S. poet laureate who flunked out of graduate school and spent 35 years working in insurance. I'll pick up the almanac story from there -- Kooser is speaking:

"I worked every day with people who didn't read poetry, who hadn't read it since they were in high school, and I wanted to write for them."

Every morning, he got up at 4:30, made a pot of coffee, and wrote until 7. Then he put on his suit and tie and went to work. By the time he retired in 1999, Kooser had published seven books of poetry, including Not Coming to Be Barked At (1976), One World at a Time (1985), and Weather Central (1994). He resigned himself to being a relatively unknown poet, but he continued to write every morning. Then, in 2004, he got a phone call informing him that he had been chosen as poet laureate of the United States. He said: "I was so staggered I could barely respond. The next day, I backed the car out of the garage and tore the rearview mirror off the driver's side." As the poet laureate, he started a free weekly column for newspapers called "American Life in Poetry."

When you really, really, really want to do something creative, you do it. The question is: How much do you want it?

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