April 18, 2006 Poet Laureate Ted Kooser Closes Literary Season with Lecture May 11

Press Contact: Press contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Public contact: Jennifer Rutland (202) 707-5394/5

NOTE: This event has been cancelled.

Poet Laureate Ted Kooser will close the 2005-2006 literary season at the Library of Congress with a lecture titled “As Luck Would Have It” at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. Kooser, who has served two terms as Poet Laureate, said, “During the past 20 months, I have made around 200 appearances and talked about poetry face-to-face to perhaps 30,000 people. I have also been able to reach a significant number of others through radio and TV appearances. I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity given to me by Dr. Billington and will always remember my two terms as one of the high points of my life.”

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.” Billington reappointed Kooser in 2005.

Billington said, “Ted has been a dedicated and outstanding Poet Laureate, attracting new audiences to poetry across the country. He has been particularly effective in instilling a wider appreciation of poetry, showing people that poems are understandable, especially through his newspaper column ‘American Life in Poetry."

In April 2005, Kooser initiated “American Life in Poetry,” www.americanlifeinpoetry.org, 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. The project was launched with the support of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and the Library of Congress. It reaches approximately 1.5 million readers per week in more than 70 newspapers.

Kooser won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his book “Delights and Shadows” (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). His latest books include a volume of poetry, “Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), and a guide book, “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.

The lecture is sponsored by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center in the Office of Scholarly Programs. The center administers a poetry and literature reading series, which has been sponsored since 1951 by a gift from Gertrude Clarke Whittall. The center also is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/poetry/.


PR 06-091
ISSN 0731-3527