cover image Cotton Candy: Poems Dipped Out of the Air

Cotton Candy: Poems Dipped Out of the Air

Ted Kooser. Univ. of Nebraska, $17.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-4962-3129-1

Kooser explains his process for his unusual latest in an author’s note: “a daily routine of getting up long before dawn, sitting with coffee, pen, and notebook, and writing whatever drifts into my mind.” Appropriately, many of the poems refer to the time of year and weather conditions under which they were composed; “Wind in the Chimney” opens “The wind turns and turns in the chimney,/ wearing her long black gown, her shawl/ of February chill,” while “A Light Snow in Late March” opens “There is a kind of light, thin snow/ that the wind can’t pick back up/ once it has put it down.” In keeping with the collection’s thematic playfulness and interest in loosely following the mind’s associations, these pages are rife with references to the animal world, “little goldfish spots of sunlight,” and in “Harpist,” the musician’s instrument is transformed: “She has taken a great golden moth/ into her arms, and with both hands/ she keeps its wings pressed closed/ to keep it from flying away.” Though some of these poems read like early drafts, there is much to be admired in Kooser’s improvisational approach to composition. (Sept.)