Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Ted Kooser talks to Daily Yonder about writing about rural America

Ted Kooser
Pulitzer Prize winning poet Ted Kooser has spent much of his career writing about rural life. Kooser recently sat down with Daily Yonder writer Dale Mackey to discuss his writing process, inspirations and what it means to write about rural America.

Kooser told Mackey: "Maybe forty years ago I published a poem, 'Spring Plowing,' about field mice moving their nests into a fencerow to be safe from the plow, and a woman who had seen the poem wrote to me and said that she would never again pass a freshly plowed field without thinking of those mice, and it came to me at once, 'This is my job, to show people new ways of looking at things!' And that’s what I’ve done."

Even when one of his poems is about an urban subject, is still has a rural feel, Kooser said. He told Mackey: "I’ve written lots of poems about people I’ve observed in cities, but because I like to isolate my subjects, to push all the other people out of the frame and thus put the focus on one or two people, it may seem that my subjects are walking the streets in small towns. I don’t think I could write a poem in which I described a crowd. For me a crowd is a lot of separate poems standing around together."

"From childhood I seem to have dreamed myself into the lives of others: What would it be like to live in that house, with those people? What would it feel like to be that man, looking out of his homely face? What would it be like to be handsome?" Kooser told Mackey. "I’m very thankful to have survived into my seventies and to have had grateful readers and to have received those honors, but I earned those readers and honors by sitting by myself, writing, morning after morning, and I have always known that my best work comes out of isolation. My writing has brought me into contact with thousands of people, but at every public appearance I have wished I could be at home with my wife and my books and my dog." (Read more)

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