The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser

By Mary K. Stillwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN
A Local Habitation & a Name

Two truths approach each other. One comes from inside,
the other from outside, and where they meet,
we have a chance to catch sight of ourselves.

—Tomas Tranströmer, “Preludes (2)”

In March 1973 Kooser received welcome news from the West: Glenna Luschei, publisher of Solo Press, was interested in publishing his second collection of poems, along with Karl Shapiro’s introduction to the volume. A Local Habitation & a Name, as Luschei recognized, is an extraordinary collection. While Kooser’s first book, Official Entry Blank, with its variety of poetic techniques, forms, and attitudes, reflects the work of an apprentice learning his craft, his second reveals a poet who has found his way. Kooser is aware of his maturation as a poet. In a letter to Luschei, he writes, “This is really solid stuff, Glenna, and I’m excited as hell about it.” A triptych of his personal and literary journey, it reflects a developing relationship with the natural environment, the byways and highways of Nebraska and Iowa. The poet’s approach is uniform, his technical facility, sure and sustained, and as Kooser himself notes, A Local Habitation & a Name was “the first of my books to really begin to demonstrate a personal voice.”

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