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April 15, 2005

Ted Kooser comes home for poetry reading

by Samantha Beres

Ted Kooser, the U.S. poet laureate and recent Pulitzer Prize winner, has lived in Nebraska for a long time. But giving a poetry reading here on campus, which he'll do on April 21, is kind of like coming home. He was born in Ames, went to high school here and graduated from Iowa State.

"I am very pleased to be welcomed home in this way. It means a great deal to me," he said, adding that the Koosers were early settlers in Ames, and his family was centered in Story County for many years.

Kooser, 65, graduated with a B.S. from Iowa State in 1962 and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1968. He is retired from a Lincoln life insurance company and currently is a visiting professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

He has authored 10 collections of poetry and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Poetry and other publications. He has won a number of awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Pushcart Prize.

Most recently, on April 4, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his latest collection of poems, Delights and Shadows.

"There are hundreds of books of fine poems published each year and to think that mine somehow made it to the top of that list is altogether amazing to me," Kooser said the day after he won the award.

National poet laureate

Last August, he was appointed the U.S. poet laureate, an appointment that he has been asked to carry over for another year. One of his goals in that post is to find ways to make poetry more popular, possibly by getting it back into newspapers. He has created a newspaper column free to any paper that wishes to pick it up.

"It's been a lot of work getting it ready to go, but it's been worth it," he said. "It shows that poetry is something newspaper readers don't have to be afraid of."

He described the poems he selected as understandable and direct. (The site can be found at http://

Kooser lives with his wife, Kathleen Rutledge, on an acreage near the town of Garland, Neb., with their dogs Alice and Howard.

Kooser will give a reading at 8 p.m., Thursday, April 21, in the Memorial Union Great Hall. Following the reading, Kooser will sign books. University Book Store will sell copies of his recent publications that evening.

Ted Kooser

Alumnus, Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. poet laureate Ted Kooser will visit campus April 21 for a poetry reading and book signing. Submitted photo.


8 p.m., Thursday, April 21
Memorial Union Great Hall