Thursday, April 18, 2013

Recent Reads: Ted Kooser's poems, The Blizzard Voices

In the midst of the recent spring storms that have sent the landscape back to winter, I read TedKooser’s book of poems entitled The Blizzard Voices.

The poems portray what happened to the people who lived on the Great Plains when the blizzard of January 12, 1888 blew full force across the land.  Although the harrowing blizzard took place over one-hundred and twenty years ago, reading about their experiences in relation to the devastating storm made my own love/hate relationship with Wyoming springs seem quite trivial.  One man froze in between his horses, children were trapped in rural school houses with little food or heat bringing death to some, other people risked their own lives by going out in the storm to find food and blankets to keep others alive, and many froze to death within feet of their own homes.

Kooser reveals in his introduction that the voices of the poem are his, gathered over many years from conversations with family members, and listening to people when he was a boy as they remembered how they survived the 1888 blizzard.

Authentic and powerful in their telling, the poems express stories of individual lives and target the essence of human nature amongst a natural disaster: survival.  As I listen to the wind and watch the snow blow, I can almost hear the survivor’s voices- somewhat sad and reminiscent- but heard and remembered as their memory, once again, is stirred into the present.

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