Selecting A Reader Poem by Ted Kooser

Selecting A Reader

Rating: 4.3

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
'For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned.' And she will.

Selecting A Reader
Old Poet 18 January 2007

Short, simple and definitely Ted Kooser. Some comments show that they did NOT get this poem in spite of its simplicity. He's poking fun of his own work AND vanity people! Its a great poem!

9 5 Reply
Anne Marie 01 August 2006

I can imagine Kooser lurking in the aisles of the bookstore, watching to see who is picking up his books. Of course he wants it to be a hot, sexy, yet intellectual girl who his poetry attracts. He is a MAN after all! And when she puts the book down, he makes into someone who is petty and obviously doesn't appreciat the art anyway. She's not quite as cute as she looked at first. It's about rejection. The dude got shot down! Annie

2 11 Reply
Reva Hill 25 November 2005

Oh—arrogance, I see. Deathless? How earnest, how arrogant such commentary strikes me. I do like the poem and enjoy Mr. Kooser’s longing for a beautiful reader and his acceptance of the shabby raincoat. He is a man who takes his art so lightly as to let her leave without buying a book.

4 8 Reply
Terri Kirby Erickson 07 November 2007

The lovely thing about this poem is how it flows from image to image...the beautiful woman...walking carefully...the loneliest moment of the afternoon...her hair still damp at the neck. You can see it clearly, feel it in a visceral way. Ted Kooser is a master at the art of story telling. And the thing is, if you are a inspire a woman to have her raincoat cleaned seems miracle enough. Every decision counts-every act, however small, changes the world.

7 5 Reply
Oliver Brookshore 09 September 2005

Great poem! ! I absloutly love it! so simple and such a joy to read. Its one of my favourite

7 5 Reply
Eileen Collins 04 March 2022

Beautiful story. I imagined him being happy that she got to read a poem or two for free and decided to spend money on herself.

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Mariam 25 August 2020

Add a sweet

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Stephen Loomes 30 June 2018

Ah, the dreams of an aging poet; but at least she thumbed over your poems as am I; the world is full of poets ever since we had recorded language; thanks to the Mercian's whose teutonic tongue became the scaffold for the English language. You at least, are a good poet, and should displace that idiot Robert Frost over whom so many Americans dote. Nothing personal Robert, you're just not a very good poet like this guy.

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Jasbir Chatterjee 26 February 2016

lovely poem and I identify myself completely with it...Thanks for sharing.

1 2 Reply
Xing Hua 07 June 2015

hha, if someone gave me a book for free, i would be very happy.

1 2 Reply
Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser

Ames, Iowa
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