Ted Kooser Appointed U.S. Poet Laureate

Poet from the Plains is a Voice for Rural America

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Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser Photo by Kathleen Rutledge; Provided by Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption Photo by Kathleen Rutledge; Provided by Library of Congress

America's new poet laureate is Ted Kooser, a professor and retired vice president of Lincoln Benefit Life Insurance Company in Nebraska. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the prestigious appointment on Thursday.

Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939, and began working for an insurance company while pursuing a master of arts degree in 1968 from the University of Nebraska. After receiving the degree, he stayed in the insurance business, but remained committed to poetry, writing every morning before going into work.

Walking to Work

Today, it's the obsidian
ice on the sidewalk
with its milk white bubbles
popping under my shoes
that pleases me, and upon it
a lump of old snow
with a trail like a comet,
that somebody,
probably falling in love,
has kicked
all the way to the corner.

From 'Sure Signs,' University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980.

» Read More Poems by Kooser

He often draws from his native Great Plains to depict the sweeping spaces and small-town life of rural America. His verse, which is famous for its simple, straightforward style, has garnered Kooser multiple awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and the Pushcart Prize.

Kooser is the author of 10 volumes of poetry including Delights and Shadows and Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison, which won the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for poetry.

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