Swallowing the Soap

Swallowing the Soap

New and Selected Poems

William Kloefkorn
Edited and with an introduction by Ted Genoways

464 pages

Paperback

October 2010

978-0-8032-3405-5

$26.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

This volume, the first to span the forty-year career of Nebraska state poet William Kloefkorn, brings together the best-known and most beloved poems by one of the most important Midwestern poets of the last half century. Collecting work from limited editions and hard-to-find books, along with Kloefkorn’s most anthologized poems, Swallowing the Soap is an indispensable one-volume compendium of the work of a major American poet.
 
“These poems aim for nothing less than the impossible: to understand what it means to be alive and human on this moveable earth,” writes the editor, Ted Genoways. Swallowing the Soap is filled with the panoramic landscapes of Kansas and Nebraska, the stories of the rough and tender people who live there, and the moments of heartache, brutality, loss, and redeeming joy that shape their lives. It offers a vision, at once intimate and expansive, of the world of the Great Plains as seen by one of its most eloquent poets.

Author Bio

William Kloefkorn (1932–2011) was an emeritus professor of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Nebraska’s state poet. He is the author of many volumes of poetry and a four-volume memoir: This Death by Drowning, Restoring the Burnt Child, At Home on This Moveable Earth, and Breathing in the Fullness of Time, all published by the University of Nebraska Press.
 
Ted Genoways is the editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and the author of Bullroarer: A Sequence. He has edited numerous books, including The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández.

Praise

"There is always the rock; there is always Kloefkorn: generous, honest, ornery, clear-eyed. I invite you to read this very significant book, No. 2 pencil in hand, and mark your favorites."—Marge Saiser, Lincoln Journal Star

"Kloefkorn's ear for the midwestern rural vernacular is pitch-perfect, and his lines of dialogue and bits of country speech are alternately hilarious and deeply poignant."—Michael Sowder, Western American Literature

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  

Introduction: A Life Like Yours by Ted Genoways

New Poems  

Eating Mulberries for Breakfast    

World War Two    

Waiting for the End    

Living Without It

Rainbow    

Fairbanks, Late July   

What He Said     

Babble     

Confrontation    

Surgery    

October    

Dread

Haywire    

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades 

Let There Be Music     

Driving through the Winnebago Reservation on My Way to Sioux Falls     

Schooling  

South Padre Island, Early Evening  

At the Pantry    

Memory     

Moving     

Over the Years   

Along Highway 14 in Southern Washington  

What the Churchbells Say     

An Old Story     

Learning to Soar 

Low Tide at Oregon’s Waikki Beach  

Late Morning, Almost Noon    

Weeding    

Upon Planning to Break My Fast a Day Early     

Now the Juniper  

Arrival    

Tea  

Birdsong   

Newborn    

Silence    

Red Cedar  

Writer in Residence at Sheridan Elementary     

With My Wife at the Super Saver    

Ponderosa  

Singing Just for the Music of It   

Accessories

Name 

Purple Iris

Dying to Get by with Everything    

Bringing Up the Rear   

Selected Poems from Alvin Turner as Farmer     

From Uncertain the Final Run to Winter   

Uncertain the Final Run to Winter  

      Country Boy

      Cleaning Out My Dead Grandfather’s Barn  

      Dec. 8, 1941     

      Prime Moving     

LTL  

Town Team  

The Spring House 

Unloneliness Poem

Selected Poems from Loony    

Selected Poems from ludi jr  

From Stocker     

Fairport   

      Elsie Martin     

      Mrs. Wilma Hunt  

      Sonny

      Urie 

      The Rearranging  

      Stocker    

From Cottonwood County 

Beginnings 

      New Year’s Eve   

      Jubilation 

      Out-and-Down Pattern   

      My Love for All Things Warm and Breathing

      If Only I Can Shake Off This Dream All the Others Should Follow  

      I Don’t Like Having a Grasshopper in My Hair   

      Daddy (Drunk) Mows the Lawn at Midnight  

      Benediction

Selected Poems from Leaving Town   

From Not Such a Bad Place to Be    

Not Such a Bad Place to Be   

      Teenage Halloween

For My Wife’s Father   

      Braces     

      Returning to Caves     

      Thanksgiving     

      Final Scenario #6

      Epitaph for a Grandfather    

From Let the Dance Begin     

Benediction

      My Granddaughter, Age 3, Tells Me the Story of the Wizard of Oz  

      For My Brother, Who Has New False Teeth  

Selected Poems from Honeymoon

Selected Poems from Platte Valley Homestead    

Selected Poems from Houses and Beyond    

From within the First House  

Each Board that Formed the Next House    

I Had Been Chained and Padlocked   

Franklin Walked Off the Deep End   

On a Hot Day after Rain

Janet Moved Away 

Standing on the Back Porch   

Mother Said She Was Glad Now 

Taking the Milk to Grandmother     

Killing the Swallows   

Rushing the Season     

In the Treehouse with Franklin     

Whatever Is Elevated and Pure, Precisely on Key

On the Road: Sunday, March 6, 1977 

From Collecting for the Wichita Beacon   

Collecting for the Wichita Beacon  

      Sowing the Whirlwind   

      Waiting to Jell  

      One of Those     

      Cornsilk   

      Solitude   

From A Life Like Mine  

Onion Syrup

      The Great Depression   

      Christmas 1939   

      Sunday Morning   

      Prove It   

      Black Cat  

      Walking the Tracks     

Kicking Leaves   

My Daughter Pregnant   

From Where the Visible Sun Is

Creation   

      Fixing Flats     

Christmas 1940   

      The Louvre 

For Proof  

An Interlude for Morning     

The Day I Pedaled My Girlfriend Betty Lou All the Way Around the Paper Route 

You Have Lived Long Enough   

Undressing by Lamplight

Easter Sunday    

From Drinking the Tin Cup Dry

Last Summer and the One Before     

      A Red Ryder BB-Gun for Christmas   

      George Eat Old Gray Rat at Pappy’s House Yesterday   

      At Shannon’s Creek, Early August   

      Drinking with My Father

      Firstborn  

      Walking to the Hinky Dinky with My Grandson, Almost 4

      Looking for Halley’s Comet   

      Taking the Test  

      Watercolor: The Door   

      Driving Back to Kansas to Watch a Wedding

      Independent

      Cave 

      Drinking the Tin Cup Dry     

From Dragging Sand Creek for Minnows     

Last of the Mohicans   

      Running Home     

      Jumping Rope     

      Driving Back Home in My Wife’s Father’s Old Chevrolet

      Wildwood, Early Autumn 

      Write a Blank-Verse Poem Using Someone Else’s Voice, Someone Dead, Someone Who You Believe Was Not Treated Fairly While Alive     

Achilles’ Heel   

      At Maggie’s Pond 

      Burning the House Down 

From Going Out, Coming Back  

Dress

      Swallowing the Soap    

      Dancing in the Cornfield     

Epiphany   

      Odyssey    

      Last Day of School     

      Jacks

Fishing with My Two Boys at a Spring-Fed Pond in Kansas    

Outage     

From Burning the Hymnal

The Color of Dusk

      Threnody   

      This is the Photograph Not Taken   

      Back to Kansas   

      Going There Sometime   

      Legend     

      Odyssey    

From Treehouse: New and Selected Poems   

Not Dreaming     

      Separations

      The Day the Earthquake Was Scheduled to Happen But Didn’t  

      Non-Stop Begonias

      On a Porch Swing Swinging    

      After the Drunk Crushed My Father  

      Treehouse  

      Singing Hymns with Unitarians

      A City Waking Up 

From Covenants   

Covenant   

      Learning the Drum

      Rainfall   

      KTSW, Sunday Morning   

      Saturday Night   

      Last Visit 

      Geese

      Afternoon in October   

      Counting the Cows

      Church     

      Sustaining the Curse   

From Welcome to Carlos 

Welcome to Carlos

      Stuka

      Home 

      Gypsy Rose 

      Back Roads 

      Balls

      The Great Depression   

      Revival    

      Reap the Wild Wind     

      Quixotic   

      Circus     

      Limits     

      Giddy

      Sand Creek 

      Dirt 

      Departures 

      Pennies    

From Loup River Psalter

Song 

Flannel    

      Bushmill   

Song 

Instrumental     

Requiem    

Catfishing 

Woodshed   

Connections

Blues

Selected Poems from Sergeant Patrick Gass, Chief Carpenter: On the Trail with Lewis & Clark     

From Fielding Imaginary Grounders  

Learning Chautauqua    

      Countries  

      Bushes Burning   

      For Some Strange Reason

      Covenants  

      Walking the Grounds at St. Elizabeth Hospital, DC    

      Somewhere in the Vicinity of Ecclesiastes

The Almost Dead  

      Soul 

      Remembering Religion   

      Brothers   

      Desiring Desire  

From Sunrise, Dayglow, Sunset, Moon

Balsa

Star of the East 

In a Church Basement Damp from Last Night’s Rain     

Sawdust    

Javelin    

Moving     

Living with Others     

Library of No Return   

In the Black Hills Whistling Dixie 

At Hemlock Hollow Near Logan, Ohio 

Funeral for an Old Woman     

For My Wife’s Mother   

Watching My Granddaughter, 7, Test for Her Purple Belt     

Not Dreaming     

Discoveries

Shooting the Rabbit    

From Walking the Campus

Nouns

      November 22, 1963

      Assignment 

      Theater    

      Moving On  

      August 12, 1992  

      After the Ice Storm    

      Connections: A Toast   

From Still Life Moving 

Braids     

Proud

Flight     

      Quest

      Spheres    

      Water

      Sleep

      Grass Woman

      Still Life Moving

From Out of Attica     

Early July 

After the First Good Early-Spring Shower 

Avon Calling     

Titles     

Looking for Scrap Iron at the Village Dump     

Digging    

Distances  

August     

Darkroom   

Saved

Bits & Pieces    

We Take My Wife’s Father Fishing One More Time 

Flying over Chicago    

At the Mayo Clinic     

Daughters  

From In a House Made of Time 

      Walking and Looking Down     

      Crossing Heaven  

 

Awards

Winner of the 2011 Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards, poetry category.

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