The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser

By Mary K. Stillwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Official Entry

The peonies are up, the red sprouts
burning in circles like birthday candles,
for this is the month of my birth…
everything ready to burst with living.

—From “Mother”

Vera Deloras Moser Kooser and Theodore Briggs Kooser welcomed their first child into the world at Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 25, 1939. All across town peonies were sending up bright red sprouts along fences and sidewalks, and the tall, well-established elms that would soon provide shelter from the Midwest summer sun were coming into leaf. A few days later the couple paid their hospital bill of $47.38 and carried Theodore John, named for his father and maternal grandfather, a few blocks south to their upstairs apartment across from Bandshell Park on Carroll Avenue.

Not long after the young family moved to the modest white frame house at 109 West Ninth Street where Teddy, or Little Ted, as he was called, grew up. The neighborhood, now part of the Historic Old Town, was already well known to Ted Sr. He had been born in the house to the immediate west, currently occupied by the Mallo

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