One of the "Big Indie Books of Fall 2014"—Publishers Weekly
"Ted Kooser must be the most accessible and enjoyable major poet in America. His lines are so clear and simple."—Michael Dirda,The Washington Post
“Readers [of Splitting an Order] 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
"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, The Christian Science Monitor
"Kooser's ability to discover the smallest detail and render it remarkable is a rare gift."—Bloomsbury Review
Pulitzer Prize winner and best selling poet Ted Kooser calls attention to the intimacies of life through commonplace objects and occurrences: an elderly couple sharing a sandwich is a study in transcendent love, while a tattered packet of spinach seeds calls forth innate human potential. This long-awaited collection from the former U.S. Poet Laureate—ten years in the making—is rich with quiet and profound magnificence.
From "Splitting an Order":
I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half
… and then to see him lift half
onto the extra plate that he asked the server to bring,
and then to wait, offering the plate to his wife
while she slowly unrolls her napkin and places her spoon,
her knife and her fork in their proper places,
then smoothes the starched white napkin over her knees
and meets his eyes and holds out both old hands to him.
Ted Kooser is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press), which won the Pulitzer Prize. A former US Poet Laureate, Kooser serves as editor for "American Life in Poetry," a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Kooser's long-awaited follow-up to 2005's PulitzerPrize 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. "Because it arrives while you sleep," Kooser writes in "Bad News," "it's the one call you never pick up/ on the first ring." Writing in the soft, casual tone he's best known for, his focuses are the telephone, the sundial, the birdhouse, and the Arby's meal. Kooser explores the bonds of love and friendship with simple insights into the marvels of existence and meditations on aging and weariness: "she stepped outside, and placed one foot/ and then the other on the future, and it held her up." In "Tree Removal," "the tree makes its exit with grace,/ going down slowly, one piece at a time." Old objects, present and remembered, become the markers by which a mind reconstitutes and evaluates a life, "forever wading/ into the next hour, followed by the rest." Kooser, alone "among the others who have stood here," observes the slow summation of past and present people and things, all "becoming a piece of some great, rusty work/ we seem to fit exactly."