At the Cancer Clinic Criticism

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Kooser built his poetry career quietly over the course of thirty years, from the 1960s through the 1990s, with little recognition beyond the small inner circle of poets and poetry teachers from whom he earned universal respect. That changed in 2004, when he was appointed to the position of poet laureate of the United States: almost overnight, his name was elevated to international attention.

Most reviews of his work make a point of mentioning Kooser's Nebraska upbringing, placing his poetry into a larger context of midwestern poetry. As Ray Olson puts it in his review of Delights & Shadows (Kooser's first collection after the announcement of his appointment as poet laureate), “Kooser is a poet of place.” In part, he attributes this label to the fact that Kooser's poetry is more concerned with immediate, at-hand issues than with trying to cope with political or social trends. Olson explains, “Kooser...

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