May 23, 2011


Humorists are folks with a good eye for hypocrites, posers, and truth benders and who can be relied upon to bring the offenders down a peg or two with a few rapier words. In my political life I received a few good lickings from my detractors and if it was done well, if I could see a grain of truth in what was said, I wouldn’t deny myself a smile of recognition. I felt that way again the other day as I was thumbing through the May edition of “AARP Bulletin”. Garrison Keillor has a new book out called, “Good Poems: American Places.” It appears to be an anthology of other people’s writing, works which for one reason or another caught his fancy.  While I do not write poetry, having too much respect for it, I did see something of myself in Keillor’s comment about the art. If I did write a poem, I expect it would be soul churning and full of angst about the meaning of life and so I caught myself smiling as I read the down home words from the creator of Lake Woebegone. I repeat them here for other hand-wringing writers who sometimes take life too seriously. Before you and I drift too far into the cosmos here are thoughts to make us smile:


      “Paging through the unreadable work of various highly honored poets, one  longs for a little humanity, a little attention paid to their surroundings. Some grit, some spark, maybe an ode to the old hometown, to the marble majesty of Colburn-Hilliard Men’s Clothing and the bounty of Benzian Furniture and Amidore’s Appliances, the sweet solace of Shadrick’s Soda Fountain, and the old ladies trying on black slacks in Dedrick’s Department Store, rather than a soliloquy on the brevity of life. Mortality is pretty much the same for everybody — The end comes too soon! Too soon! – and Shakespeare’s sonnets set a high standard here, do they not? So one is grateful if, instead of playing that old lament, the poet pays attention to the astonishment that awaits on a particular fall day in Missoula, Montana.”

(“Good Poems: American Places” by Garrison Keillor, reprinted in “AARP Bulletin,” 5/2011, pg. 32)