The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser

By Mary K. Stillwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
“Bright Yellow Leaves Flying”

“This is the life I have chosen.”

Local Wonders

By September 2006 Kooser was able to return to his pre-laureate routine, writing in the mornings, painting in his Dwight studio, and teaching his poetry tutorial at the university. His literary life still took time—travel, readings, and mail—but not as much. Kooser’s The Blizzard Voices was reissued, with a new introduction by the author, in anticipation of Opera Omaha’s premier of an oratorio based on the poems. On September 20 Kooser received the Sower Award in the Humanities at the Lied Center of Performing Arts in Lincoln. Given annually by the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Sower recognizes contribution to public understanding of the humanities in the state. At the awards ceremony Kooser acknowledged his first teachers and his wife, Kathleen Rutledge, as his “first and best editor, my counselor and my best friend.” Kooser and Rutledge celebrated twenty-nine years of marriage four days later.

About the same time Kooser was contacted by Dr. Bill Lydiatt, the surgeon who had treated the poet for cancer. Professor and director of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology at the University Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Lydiatt invited Kooser along with Mark

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