Too many of you are hitting me for saying a favorable word about the poet Ted Kooser for me to ignore. And John Derbyshire at NRO doesn’t hold back either:
I don’t want to rain on Ted Kooser’s parade, but that poem you posted was -- how should I say it? -- cringe-inducingly awful. Quite apart from the fact that it employs not one -- not one! -- of the huge inventory of tricks and techniques that English-langiage poets have so painstakingly built up this past 1500 years, it fails quite basic tests of grammar -- unintentionally, so far as I can tell.
Look at this, for instance: "her hair still damp at the neck / from washing it." Grammatically, this means that the lady’s hair washed her neck. I suppose that could be made to work as a poetic conceit, but there is no sign Kooser is trying to accomplish that (or could if he tried). The signs are, that he does not have a very good grasp of English grammar. Similarly with "a raincoat, an old one, dirty / from not having money enough for the cleaners," whose meaning is that the raincoat did not have enough money for the cleaners. Oy oy oy. This man is the representative of American poetry for the next twelve months? The Muse weeps.