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An American Life in Poetry

Poet Ted Kooser, who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his book "Delights and Shadows" (Copper Canyon Press, 2004), continues to increase the country's appreciation of poetry through his project "American Life in Poetry," a free weekly column offered to newspapers and other publications around the country. Each Thursday, Kooser chooses a short poem written by other poets and supplies a brief introduction. He aims for strong poems that are easily understood.

Mural, Lyric Poetry (detail), in the South Corridor, Jefferson Building Ted Kooser in his private library

Launched in April 2005 with the support of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and the Library of Congress, the column appears in more than 100 newspapers and reaches a circulation of nearly 10 million readers.

Every fall, the Poet Laureate, who is chosen by the Librarian of Congress, opens the Library's literary season. Kooser, in his second term as Poet Laureate, will open the 2005-06 season with a reading at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the Library's James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; reservations or tickets are not required.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington first appointed Kooser to the laureateship in 2004 and hailed him as "a major poetic voice for rural and small-town America and the first Poet Laureate chosen from the Great Plains." On Kooser's reappointment in 2005, Billington said, "We are delighted that Ted Kooser has agreed to serve a second year. His dedication and initiatives are already attracting new audiences to poetry."

Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939, Kooser earned a bachelor's degree at Iowa State University in 1962 and a master's at the University of Nebraska in 1968. He worked for years as an executive in the insurance industry. Kooser teaches as a visiting professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

The poetry and literature reading series at the Library of Congress is the oldest in the Washington, D.C., area, and among the oldest in the United States. The Poetry and Literature Center administers the series, sponsored since 1951 by a gift from Gertrude Clarke Whittall, who wanted to bring the appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. The center also is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936. For more information, visit the Library's poetry Web site.

Many of the literary events held at the Library can be enjoyed online by accessing the Webcasts page. Hundreds of events in many areas of interest are available, including programs focusing on Poetry and Literature. To access Kooser's programs, type his last name in the search box at the top right of the page.

Another of America's great poets, Walt Whitman, is represented on the American Memory Web site in "The Poet at Work."

A. Henry O. Walker, artist. [Mural, Lyric Poetry (detail), in the South Corridor, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress]. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-95395 (b&w film copy neg.); Call No.: U.S. GEOG FILE - Washington, D.C.--Library of Congress--Jefferson Building--Interior--Murals & paintings--Walker, Henry O. <item> [P&P]

B. Tom Slocum, Lori Anderson, Jon Humiston/University of Nebraska-Lincoln Photography, photographers. Ted Kooser in his private library, 2004. Not available for reproduction.