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The Blizzard Voices

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  167 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
This book is a collection of poems recording the devastation unleashed on the Great Plains by the blizzard of January 12, 1888. The Blizzard Voices is based on the actual reminiscences of the survivors as recorded in documents from the time and written reminiscences from years later. Here are the haunting voices of the men and women who were teaching school, working the la ...more
Paperback, 64 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Bison Books (first published January 1st 1986)
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Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"A collection of poems recording the devastation unleashed on the Great Plains by the blizzard of January 12, 1888." says the copy on the back of the book. That doesn't begin to do justice to the narratives captured within this slim volume, accompanied by poignant line drawings by Tom Pohrt. Normally, I shy away from any poetry that comes with illustration, feeling that often, unless it's a children's book, the illustration is a signal that the poetry within is not up to snuff and needs distract ...more
Apr 20, 2009 rated it liked it
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Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
A slim volume of "poems" by Kooser, narrative monologues based on the experience of individuals during the 1888 Blizzard. AKA The Children's Blizzard, since many children were stuck in their schoolhouses for a couple of days, and a number perished from the sub zero temperatures that followed the snow.

Each poem is short, for me too short to be totally effective. And the narrators are only identifies as "A Man's Voice" or "A Woman's Voice", even though he knew who the individuals were (the poems a
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nebraska-books
I read this work in a single night, even while taking the time to savor it as poetry. I really appreciated the change of voices from survivors of the School-house Blizzard as I turned each page. (A woman's voice, a man's voice, etc) Takes you back to pre-Weather Channel and radio days when the catastrophic storms and your neighbors' disasters came and went undetected by most of the outlying populations. Only after living on the high plains can the reader imagine and grasp roaring inland winds so ...more
Beautifully done. These poems are based on the experiences of men and women who lived through the "Schoolhouse Blizzard" of 1888 on the Great Plains. Each poem comes from a different anonymous speaker, and the collection is best read aloud. Kooser's individual voices capture the disorientation that must have come from such a storm. Here are characters in different towns and states, trapped in one blinding torrent of snow. Some are separated from each other by hundreds of miles, but they share on ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
These monologue poems about the terrible 1888 blizzard that swept across the Great Plains end too soon. The book opens with a poem titled "A Woman's Voice" in size 14 or 16 font, then alternates to "A Man's Voice." All the poems in the book have those two titles, although it is clear the monologues are being delivered from different people. There are 18 Woman poems and 18 Man poems, so Kooser is careful to give a balanced perspective, or was he having some fun, calling attention to the year in w ...more
May 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
An interesting subject, but merely adequately handled (which pretty much sums up my opinion of any of Kooser's work). Kooser's style shoots for plainspoken but veers into unmemorable. There are a few striking moments in here, but the presentation of the book (which has no page numbers and features a few dozen poems all titled either "A Man's Voice:" or "A Woman's Voice") makes it difficult to identify or describe them without giving them away. (Spoiler: the best moment occurs the first time we a ...more
Apr 12, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is part narrative, part poetry. The voices are memories from the great blizzard of 1888. Kooser says he grew up hearing his elderly relatives recount their memories of this blizzard, and he drew from those and accounts published at the time to distill down some of the essential images. One of the most vivid images for me was how a cow's tail froze sideways. And towards the end of the book there is brief vignette about a turkey who had been buried for weeks in the ice, yet survived by e ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite moments from teaching at Silver Lake College happened while reading this book. My advanced poetry class gathered in the balcony of Generose Center and on a stage strewn with dead flies (it hadn't been cleaned in a while) we did a choral reading from this work. Individually the poems don't stand up well, but as a collective work The Blizzard Voices evokes an epic storm and a time out of memory.
Sep 01, 2008 rated it liked it
I found this one to be very interesting. Am intrigued to see how this was adapted for the stage. (I am imagining a somewhat disconnected series of monologues...)

I know that it is a financial gamble to publish a collection of poetry in the U.S., so it is almost a taboo subject to speak of the financial "worth" of a poetry collection, but this collection is very, very short...

I liked many of the poems. I did not find myself to be a fan of the small illustrations, however.
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
These poems, harvested from archival records of the great Nebraska blizzard of 1888 known as the Schoolchildren's Blizzard, are masterfully told in alternating narratives only identified as "A Woman's Voice" and "A Man's Voice". Ted Kooser brings these memories to life in all their tragedy and mundanity.
Genevieve Woods
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book made me re-think poetry, and what the art form can do. Kooser's poems about a blizzard over a century ago brought the time and the people to life in a way that no novel or history tome could do. I had thought I wasn't really a poetry person, but now I realize I just wasn't reading the right poems.
David Lemons
Jun 05, 2014 rated it liked it
At first, I was not interested in Kooser's poems; but I re-read them and liked them. While they at first did not seem "poetic", I began to see the poems like I did when I discovered Leaves of Grass by Whitman for the first time.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Not as great as Kooser's other works, probably because he is telling someone else's story rather than his own. I still enjoyed this though because that blizzard is a fascinating story from ANYONE's perspective!
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Marilyn by: research
Shelves: poetry
Mr. Kooser takes the information from In All Its Fury and writes a beautiful book telling of the Schoolchrildren's Blizzard of 1888. The blizzard took place on January 12, 1888 and is an important part of Nebraska history.

This is a book well worth reading. It makes me a poetry fan.
Rebecca Stark
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A simple book that tells so many stories! Page after page recalls a different person's memories of the Blizzard of 1888. A quick but informative read. Not a bad book to turn to if you feel like your life is lacking.
Anna Beth
Aug 04, 2008 rated it liked it
The book is made up of reminiscences in poetry form of individuals who experienced the "Blizzard of 1886," sometimes known as the Schoolchildren's Blizzard. The winter storm was given this name because so many students and teachers were stranded in rural schoolhouses.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-poetry, read-own
This would make a great reader's theatre script!
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very neat.
Mar 01, 2013 rated it liked it
One of my favorite poets, this is a historical work based on the 1888 blizzard and the lives it touched.
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really like Kooser's work. Since I am a born and bred Nebraskan too, I can relate to the images he writes about in his poetry and prose.
Valerie Doherty
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Blizzard Voices is a very quick read by poet laureate, Ted Kooser. Part of Book Riot's 2015 reading challenge- poetry collection.
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poems
Fairly matter-of-fact narratives of The Children's Blizzard. I enjoyed the details, though I perhaps would have liked more adornments, a bit more linguistic flair.
Alisha Erin
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Powerful. Chilling. Amazing poetry.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
A slim volume of poetry inspired by the voices of folks who survived the Children's Blizzard of 1886. A haunting story, parced out in verse.
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, as all Kooser writing is.
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Kooser's poetry is simple, direct and compelling. These voices from 1888 are wholly believable. This is not academic. It is real life. I read it straight through.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What a powerful little volume. These poems made the voices from the Children's Blizzard of 1888 on the Great Plains very real and vivid.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had read the Children's Blizzard so knew about this famous blizzard.
Enjoyed these poems very much. I'll be seeing the author at Chautauqua in August.
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book of poems based on collected memories of 'the great blizzard' in 1888 (on the Great Plains).
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Ted Kooser lives in rural Nebraska with his wife, Kathleen, and three dogs. He is one of America's most noted poets, having served two terms as U. S. Poet Laureate and, during the second term, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection, DELIGHTS & SHADOWS. He is a retired life insurance executive who now teaches part-time at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The school board ...more
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