The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser

By Mary K. Stillwell | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

As an epigraph for his 2004 collection, Delights & Shadows, Ted Kooser chose a line from Emily Dickinson’s letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson: “The Sailor cannot see the North—but knows the Needle can.” Dickinson was looking for literary guidance from her friend and mentor; Kooser was reminding his readers of how knowledge of death informs our lives. Dickinson’s words also suggest the kind of support and guidance, seen and unseen, that I have received as I turned my interest in Kooser’s poetry into the book that is before you.

Like that sailor setting forth, I have many to thank for pointing me in the right direction both before and after the announcement of Kooser’s laureateship. The late Susan J. Rosowski, scholar and editor of Willa Cather’s scholarly edition, a careful listener, provided insight, feedback, and an opportunity for financial support by nominating me for a UNL Presidential Fellowship to complete my doctoral study of Nebraska poetry. Although she was too ill to attend graduation, her friendship continued, and I have felt her presence long after her death several months following Kooser’s appointment.

Early in my college career I had the good fortune to study with Sr. Ernestine and Mike Novak at (then) St. Mary College, who praised my early attempts at writing even when my test scores indicated a future in the sciences. Later William Packard, poet, teacher, and

-xi-

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