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Lights on a Ground of Darkness: An Evocation of a Place and Timeby Ted Kooser
Synopses & Reviews
Like a flash of lightning it came to himand#8212;the unathletic high school student Ted Kooser saw a future as a famous poet that promised everything: glory, immortality, a bohemian lifestyle (no more doing dishes, no more cleaning his room), and, particularly important to the lonely teenager, girls! Unlike most kids with a sudden ambition, Kooser, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and thirteenth poet laureate of the United States, made good on his dream. But glory was a long time coming, and along the way Kooser lived the life that has made his poetry what it is, as deeply grounded in family, work, and the natural world as it is attuned to the nuances of language.
Just as so much of Kooserand#8217;s own writing weaves geography, history, and family stories into its measures, so does this first critical biography consider the poetand#8217;s work and life together: his upbringing in Iowa, his studies in Nebraska with poet Karl Shapiro as mentor, his career in insurance, his family life, his bout with cancer, and, always, his poetry. Combining a fine appreciation of Kooserand#8217;s work and life, this book finally provides a fuller and more complex picture of a writer who, perhaps more than any other, has brought the Great Plains and the Midwest, lived large and small, into the poetry of our day.
The stories of poet Kooser's family had been handed down orally until, as his mother lay ill and dying, he felt an urgency to write them down. With a poet's eye for detail, the author captures the beauty of the landscape and the vibrancy of his mother's Iowa family.
Like the yellow, pink, and blue irises that had been transplanted from house to house over the years, the stories of poet Ted Koosers family had been handed down until, as his mother lay ill and dying, he felt an urgency to write them down. With a poets eye for detail, Kooser captures the beauty of the landscape and the vibrancy of his mothers Iowa family, the Mosers, in precise, evocative language.
The center of the familys love is Koosers uncle, Elvy, a victim of cerebral palsy. Elvys joys are fishing, playing pinochle, and drinking soda from the ice chest at his fathers roadside Standard Oil station. Koosers grandparents, their kin, and the activities and pleasures of this extended family spin out and around the armature of Elvys blessed life.
Kooser has said that writing this book was the most important work he has ever undertaken because it was his attempt to keep these beloved people alive against the relentless erosion of time.
About the Author
Ted Kooser, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and former U.S. poet laureate, is Presidential Professor of the University of Nebraska. He is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Valentines (Nebraska 2008) and The Blizzard Voices (available in a Bison Books edition). His award-winning prose book, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps, is also available in a Bison Books edition.
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