He notices subtle details — a change in the weather, a long-married couple who no longer make eye contact, solar-powered stars in a churchyard — and masterfully uses description and metaphor as he writes about the people and creatures around him ... As Kooser records everyday pleasures and griefs, he remembers those he will never see again, underscores the deep need we all have for connection, moments of respite and the abiding sense that our ordinary moments matter.
Kooser’s poems...mildly subversive, unveiling literary vignettes where, at first glance, it does seem that not much of anything is going on. Yet not far beneath the surface of the narrative, something profound inevitably glows ... Kooser’s puckish self-effacement – his recognition that in a world of practical urgencies, poetry doesn’t always or even usually command center stage – is part of his abiding charm ... His poems speak without ornament of everyday life, not the preoccupations of the academy ... Their matter-of-fact Midwestern sensibility is also informed by a playful lyricism ... The reader hopes, in finishing this collection, that Kooser’s own journey is far from over.
There are no big shots here, but plenty of family, neighbors, and dogs. And there is always himself, constantly observing, like a benevolent spy, whether at home or, as in Winter Morning Walks (2000), abroad. Gratifying selections from those and his other books, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Delights & Shadows (2004), reappear herein, alongside many new poems, generally in a strongly musical quasi-blank verse and reflecting his current status as an old man we all wish we knew.
Poet of place, generations, elegies, spirit, and love, Kooser’s poetry deserves continual praise. He’s often noted as a poet for a broad audience, and certainly his two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate and continued cheerleading for poetry attest to his appeal, but let’s not forget that he is also incredibly skilled. His poems are generous; their profluence nearly effortless ... This collection is a gift.
The selections in Kindest Regards, as well as with all of Kooser’s collections, are accessible to readers of all ages. They are the kind of poems that should be translated and taught because of their masterful use of clear and easily understood language. Language comes naturally to Kooser. His poems are crafted with ease, and the stanza breaks are perfect. The poems stay on course and carry complete metaphors. There is no doubt. Kooser also punctuates his poetry, using uniform stanzas, without spreading words across the page. His craft is to be cherished in a world where contemporary poetry, especially visual poetry, is frequently misunderstood.