Depression Glass

from wikipedia by lowkeyvision

from wikipedia by lowkeyvision








Lately I’ve been listening to the Poetry Foundation podcast Essential American Poets. Each episode includes a short introduction to a poet’s life and work and a few poems read by the poet. One of my favorite episodes features Ted Kooser. I love his concrete world and his midwestern sensibility. I’m from St. Louis and my father was from a small town in western Missouri. Some of Kooser’s poems seem to describe a life my father lived but didn’t talk about. I never got to use my grandmother’s depression glass, but I’m sure she had some.

I’m going to break with tradition and share the end of Kooser’s poem Depression Glass.

                                          It was hard
to hold up your end of the gossip
with your coffee cold, but it was
a special occasion, just the same,
to sit at her kitchen table
and sip the bitter percolation
of the past week’s rumors from cups
it had taken a year to collect
at the grocery, with one piece free
for each five pounds of flour.

Ted Kooser

Here’s a link to the entire poem.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Jama. I can’t wait to see what she’s serving!

15 replies
  1. Heidi
    Heidi says:

    Thanks for this. There’s a constellation of reasons why I shouldn’t be moved by Kooser’s sort of work, and yet almost always I am. Do you think it’s because he represents our parents so artfully yet honestly?

  2. Janet F.
    Janet F. says:

    Another era, depression glass. I really like seeing that time in this poem. I like Ted Kooser’s column in our Sunday paper. Luckily that is still there, but who knows for how long. I am curious about your Essential American Poet podcast listening, Liz. I may have to try. Wish you were coming to NCTE in Boston. Next year it is DC… should definitely be there!

  3. Linda Baie
    Linda Baie says:

    I grew up in Missouri, Liz, have loads of this glass from various relatives, just sold it this year in an estate sale except for a few pieces. Good memories there, and in Ted Kooser’s poem. I love his work too, sometimes seems to be speaking of my life growing up.

  4. Bridget Magee
    Bridget Magee says:

    I hadn’t heard of Kooser, but he could have been speaking about my Minnesota relatives. My grandma had Depression glass, but it went to my aunt instead of my Mom. Thanks for sharing this poetry history, Liz.

  5. Janet F.
    Janet F. says:

    You might be interested in this Depression glass story. I was in the play Miracle Worker in our HS summer theater. Maybe in summer before 10th grade. I played the maid. It was my job to go on stage after the big fight scene and clean the dining room which was in darkness on stage left. I had to get all the broken glass up. The director had been up to maybe Vermont or New Hampshire and had purchased “cheap” glass at a second hand shop. We had lots of it. They really threw it around. This would never “fly” these days I bet. No one got injured though. I thought it was sad because I thought the Depression glass was pretty and I had never seen it. So it is very interesting to me to read these other comments. I wish I even had a plate or two! I can still totally visualize that set and the activity. I loved working on the plays. Mainly I was backstage. Too shy to want to be in the limelight. I played a dead person in Our Town!! And had a line. But it was such an important aspect of my learning. I wish all kids could have the chance to participate in just one season of putting on a play. Thanks for bringing this memory to life.

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      Janet, this is such a great story. I can’t imagine all that glass flying and shattering. I love that you played a dead person but still, you had the experience of being in a play. I hope you had a great trip!

  6. Tabatha
    Tabatha says:

    What an interesting story from Janet! Goodness, all the broken glass. Kooser’s poem is so wonderfully tactile. I’ll bet his poetry repair manual has some excellent tips.


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