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Essay about Ted Kooser: Great Poet of the Great Plains

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Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest men in American history, described his vision for the United States of America as a land of agrarian people. However, now, over two centuries later, the US faces a very different reality dominated by the growth of the urban metropolis, by industry, by the stoic bankers of Wall Street. Despite this, the poetry of Ted Kooser immortalizes a quickly vanishing lifestyle of rustic America on the vast expanses of the Great Plains. Kooser was born in a small Iowa town in April 1939 and received a degree from Iowa State University. After working at Lincoln Benefit Life, an insurance corporation, for over three decades, he made history by becoming the first poet from the Great Plains to be named the U.S. Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress. The following year, he received a Pulitzer Prize for Delights and Shadows, one of his 14 published poetry collections. Kooser’s poetry often deals with nature and scenes unique to but typical on the plains of America, specifically Nebraska, where he lives with his wife as a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Additionally, he uses simple vernacular to make his poetry more understandable to the everyday reader and consciously avoids esoteric allusions and he is a self-described imagist. As a result of Kooser’s background and his commitment to making poetry more widely understood, he uses simple figurative language prevalently and discusses a need for the preservation of culture, specifically that of the Great Plains where he was raised.
Kooser’s use of uncomplicated figurative language is a striking feature of most of his poetry. Often, he uses figurative language to create imagery, critical to his poetry. In “The Blind Always Come as Such a Surpri...


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...f the Small Presses. New York: Pushcart, 2013. Print.
Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. An Introduction to Poetry. 10th ed. New York: Longman, 2002. Print.
Leithauser, Brad. "'Flying at Night': In the Heart of the Heart of the Country." The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Aug. 2005. Web. 24 May 2014. .
Lund, Elizabeth. "Love Poems on a Postcard." Csmonitor.com. The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Feb. 2008. Web. 23 May 2014. .
Mason, David. "Introducing Ted Kooser." Thedarkhorsemagazine.com. The Dark Horse Magazine, Summer 2005. Web. 25 May 2014. .
"Ted Kooser." Poetryfoundation.org. Poetry Foundation, 2010. Web. 25 May 2014. .



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