August 9, 2005 Poet Laureate Ted Kooser Opens Literary Season with a Reading on Oct. 13

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jennifer Rutland (202) 707-4225

Ted Kooser, in his second term as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, will open the Library’s 2005-06 literary 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.”

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.

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.

In his first year as Poet Laureate, Kooser has made more than 50 appearances from coast to coast, to read and talk about poetry. At the Library of Congress, he has invited poets to read in the Library’s literary series, presented Wytter Bynner Fellowships to two poets and brought singer-songwriter John Prine to the Coolidge Auditorium to discuss the poetry of song lyrics.

Kooser is the author of 11 collections of poetry. His most recent books are “Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005) and “The Poetry Home Repair Manual” (University of Nebraska Press, 2005), which offers practical advice for beginning poets.

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.

In addition to his collections of poetry, Kooser wrote a book of essays, “Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps” (2002), which won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003. Kooser is also the author, with his longtime friend Jim Harrison, of “Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry” (2003).

For the 2005-06 season, the Library will present further poetry readings by noted poets on the following dates, all on Thursdays: Oct. 20, Nov. 3, Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Dec. 8. More information on the events will be released later.

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


PR 05-170
ISSN 0731-3527