he Blizzard Voices, Ted Kooser’s stirring and innovative collection of poetry recording the devastation unleashed on the Great Plains by the blizzard of January 12, 1888, has been selected for inclusion in the 2007 Book Sense Poetry Top Ten. This list is compiled by independent booksellers throughout the U.S. and publicized by Book Sense both in print and online.
Published as a Bison Books edition in 2006 by the University of Nebraska Press, The Blizzard Voices is based on the actual reminiscences of the survivors of the Blizzard of 1888 as recorded in documents from the time and written reminiscences from years later. Kooser’s poetry weaves fact and artful abstraction, summoning the haunting voices of the men and women who were teaching school, working the land, and tending the house when the storm arrived and changed their lives forever. The resulting collection of poems is raw, yet focused, much like the storm itself. Kooser highlights this in his introduction:
When the Alberta Clipper, roaring out of the north, rips apart a straw stack, only the frozen center remains, and each of these memories is like that center, stripped of digression, picked clean of equivocation. What is left are the core narratives, spare and cold.
Ted Kooser, former U.S. poet laureate and winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. In addition to his many volumes of poetry, he is the coauthor (with Steve Cox) of Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing and the author of The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps, available in a Bison Books edition.