Rexroth’s Moose

Have Dog, Will Travel: a Poet's Journey by Stephen Kuusisto

The American poet Kenneth Rexroth wrote a book which he called an autobiographical novel. Its a great read, especially if you’re interested in progressive history during the first half of the twentieth century. Rexroth was everywhere from the logging camps of the far west to bohemian Greenwich Village and he seems to have had a talent for conversation with almost anyone. He’s at home with anthroposophists, wobbleys, and rare book dealers.

I especially love the book’s opening where he claims that he shot a moose at the age of four.

I suspect he really did it. My mother was taught to shoot first and ask questions later when she was a child and was often left alone in the country.

I’m not sentimental and I don’t think children left alone in the woods with guns (or anywhere else) is a great parenting tactic. Thank you for letting me get that out of the way. I should also say Rexroth‘s moose was probably blameless.

The adult poet, the author of the book, was an environmental writer and human rights activist. Rexroth hid Japanese-Americans from the internment camps during the Second World War.

He never shot a second moose.

He was a pacifist.


When I was four I ran away from my parents and got happily lost in Helsinki.

I lived on a constantly turning electrostatic wheel of inventions.

I loved Kaivopuisto Park and chased leaves even though I couldn’t see them.

I was high above the Baltic among leaves and gulls.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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