A companion volume of light verse for fans of the radio host’s A Prairie Home Companion.
All poetry depends on voice, even more so in this first collection of poetry by Keillor (Life Among the Lutherans, 2009, etc.), whose sonorous, incantatory tone would balance the whimsy of the page. The reader will likely hear the writer’s voice in his ear when scanning this verse, and will recognize that these limericks, rhyming jokes and more bittersweet meditations are better consumed one by one than many at a single sitting. That same voice, of course, distinguishes Keillor’s prose as well, underscoring everything from his attitude to his subject matter—the droll, deadpan delight in the thoroughly Midwestern perspective—but the imperative to rhyme (which almost all of these short poems do) gives him license to be a little sillier than usual. His template suggests the influence of Ogden Nash, fellow New Yorker writer (and Midwestern native) Calvin Trillin and Roy Blount Jr., but it also has plenty of Chuck Berry (including a mashup of Berry and a fellow St. Louis versifier on “T.S. Eliot Rock”), old blues songs and jazz standards, and bawdy ballads that don’t seem so naughty when it is Keillor expressing “A sudden urge / to merge.” And there are couplets that seem to exist simply for the sake of rhyme: “I’m not a Mormon, nor are you, / Neither was Harmon Killebrew.” His verse takes him far from his native Minnesota, typically as the tourist in Seattle, San Francisco or Manhattan, while never forsaking his common-sense pragmatism or keen eye for the absurd.
Readers drawn to this will know exactly what they are looking for, and they will find it.