The Weight of the Weather: Regarding the Poetry of Ted Kooser is a comprehensive examination of the former US Poet Laureate’s long-time contribution to American letters. For many years, Kooser’s work, while well-regarded among regional audiences in the Midwest and Great Plains, had been considered quaint and provincial by readers elsewhere. This attitude largely changed circa 1980 with the publication of Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems, when Kooser’s work began to receive national readership.
In this new critical study, Mark Sanders, a long-time critic, publisher, and supporter of Great Plains poetry, compiles a comprehensive overview and evaluation of Kooser’s poetic legacy. The Weight of the Weather gathers numerous criticisms, book reviews, reflections, and interviews that span Kooser’s long poetic career, including work by a number of critics and fellow poets—Dana Gioia, David Baker, and Jonathan Holden among them. The book endeavors to balance early appraisals of Kooser’s work, from 1980 and before, through his contemporary success and popularity.
Kooser, a Presidential Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, served as US Poet Laureate from 2004–2006; among his many collections of poetry is Delights & Shadows which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Long-noted for his poetry’s accessibility, clarity, and precision, Kooser’s poetry has too often been compartmentalized as regional or pastoral; The Weight of the Weather changes that perspective. Indeed, Kooser’s work is universally American, deeply ingrained in the poetic traditions of Whitman, Frost, Williams, Stafford, and Stevens.