Ted Kooser Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Along with his poetry, Ted Kooser (KEW-zur) has written nonfiction works about life on the plains. Essays depicting Nebraska life and scenery are featured in Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (2002). The Poetry Home Repair Manual (2005) contains twelve chapters on the art of composing poetry in various forms. He collaborated with writer Steve Cox on Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing (2006), a brief work that offers basic information for beginning writers. Lights on a Ground of Darkness: An Evocation of a Time and Place (2009) is a memoir about his mother’s family, the Mosers. To Kooser, retelling the family saga represents his desire to preserve their life stories.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Ted Kooser served as the poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006, becoming the first poet laureate from the American Plains. The poem collection Delights and Shadows earned Kooser the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2005 and the Milt Kesssler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton University. His publishing company, Windflower Press, which received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, produced poetry anthologies and two literary magazines from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Kooser’s works have earned him more than twenty poetry awards, including the Prairie Schooner Prize in Poetry (1976, 1978), two Pushcart Prizes (1984, 2005), the Richard Hugo Prize (1994), the James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry (1999), the Nebraska Book Award in poetry (2001), the Milton Kessler Award (2005), the Society of Midland Authors Poetry Prize (2005), the Midwest Booksellers Association Poetry Award (2005, 2007, 2008), and the Word Sender Award from the John G. Neihardt Foundation (2008). He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska, South Dakota State University, and the State University of New York at Binghamton.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Barbieri, Richard. “Rhymes.” Independent School 65, no. 3 (Spring, 2006) 102-104. Barbieri discusses contemporary poetry from a teacher’s perspective. He praises the poets Kooser and Mary Oliver, citing their accessibility and forthright style. It is a helpful article in assessing what students may find useful in studying poetry.

Kooser, Ted. “Official Web Site of Poet: Ted Kooser.” http://www.tedkooser.net. This Web site provides a biography of Kooser, reviews and articles, information about his books, a link to a video of a reading, selected poems, and information about American Life in Poetry.

_______. “Straight Answers from Ted Kooser.” Interview. American Libraries 35, no. 11 (December, 2004): 31. A brief but helpful place to learn basic facts about Kooser. The poet answers eight questions related to his writing, becoming a poet laureate, and the importance of poetry in American culture.

McDougall, Jo. “Of Time, Place, and Eternity: Ted Kooser at the Crossroads.” Midwest Quarterly 40, no. 4 (Summer, 2005): 410-413. An informative article that illustrates how Kooser is a regional writer in the same sense as Flannery O’Connor was. Just as O’Connor’s works reflected the peculiarities of her native Georgia, McDougall asserts that Kooser explores similar life truths through the people of the Plains. An analysis of his poem “Old Cemetery” illustrates the critic’s points.

Meats, Stephen. “A Tribute to Ted Kooser.” Midwest Quarterly 46, no. 4 (Summer, 2005): 331-443. This extensive feature is a compilation of material that includes texts of several poems, interviews with Kooser, and commentary about him, his writing style, and themes. It is a good source for finding a variety of material about the poet.

Stewart-Nunez, Christine. “For Ted.” Midwest Quarterly 46, no. 4 (Summer, 2005): 422-424. A first-person account of the writer’s experience as a graduate student studying with Kooser. She relates the principles she learned from a master teacher.