American Life in Poetry: Column 746

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We haven't published nearly enough poems written for young people, and here's one I like a great deal, by Joyce Sutphen, the current Minnesota poet laureate, written for her granddaughter, Ellie. Of course, like much good poetry, it's for both young and old.

Origami

It starts
with a blank sheet,
an undanced floor,
 
air where no sound
erases the silence.
As soon as
 
you play the first note,
write down a word,
step onto the empty stage,
 
you've moved closer
to the creature inside.
Remember—
 
a square
can end up as frog, cardinal,
mantis, or fish.
 
You can make
what you want,
do what you wish.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Joyce Sutphen, "Origami." Poem reprinted by permission of Joyce Sutphen. Introduction copyright © 2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.