I was speaking with Ellen Kort, Wisconsin’s first Poet Laureate, when Mr. Kooser returned from the Men’s room. Ellen asked me, “Have you met Ted Kooser?”
I replied “No,” smiling, and offered my hand.
He took it, blank-faced, and asked, “And you are?”
I responded, still smiling, “Lester Smith.” A pause. “Current president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.”
He replied, “Oh,” then, “Ellen, shall we get this thing underway?”
Fortunately, 25+ years in publishing, with a penchant for backwater projects like hobby games and poetry, have left me with an ego that is neither too large nor too small. I returned to my table, chuckling, and thoroughly enjoyed his reading. (He read an unpublished “journal” of a Blackhawk War foot soldier, followed by “Dishwater” and “The beaded purse” by audience request.)
If you ever have the chance to hear Mr. Kooser read in public, I certainly recommend it. His delivery is very, very good, and his poetry deserves to be heard aloud.