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.
and#160;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.
“Ted Kooser is an important American poet who achieved a national reputation while living and working almost entirely outside the centers of literary power. Mary K. Stillwells carefully researched new book provides biographical information never before available. This is a uniquely useful study of Koosers life and work.”—Dana Gioia, poet and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
Nancy S. Gillis - Nebraska History
“Mary K. Stillwells biography, The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser
, is not only carefully, clearly researched and presented, but a project of genuine love. Longtime Kooser fans will cheer for more details illuminating our beloved favorite poet. New Kooser readers will find the book so inviting they too make a lifetime friend.”—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East
andquot;Stillwell shows us that that effect of Kooser's poems is the result of a prosody as carefully cultivated as that of any fine poet. As she unfolds the events of Kooser's ordinary life, she examines each of his collections and his few, short prose books to disclose the large aim of his writing, which is to demonstrate and affirm the interconnectedness of people and their natural contexts.andquot;andmdash;Ray Olson, Booklist
andquot;Aand#160;fine, authoritative first biography of the former U.S. Poet Laureate.andquot;andmdash;Tom Lavoie, Shelf Awareness
"[The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser] is more than just a biography. It offers a window into much of Kooser's life and highlights his writing throughout."and#8212;Jill Martin, Seward County Independent
andquot;The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser is an invaluable resource and entertaining work for poetry lovers of all kinds.andquot;andmdash;Travis Amundson, Nebraska Lifeand#160;
"Stillwell has accomplished a nice piece of very readable scholarship."—Nancy S. Gillis, Nebraska History Jill Martin - Seward County Independent
"[The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser is] well-crafted and, as the first book-length study of Kooser's work, an essential resource, not only for Kooser scholars but for scholars of American poetry as well."—Marcia Noe, MidAmerica Nancy S. Gillis - Nebraska History
About the Author
A Nebraska native, Mary K. Stillwell has studied writing in New York and, with Ted Kooser, on the plains and earned her PhD in plains literature from the University of Nebraskaand#8211;Lincoln. She served as coeditor of Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry
and has published her poetry widely in literary magazines and journals as well as a number of anthologies. Her full-length collection of poems is Moving to Malibu