Ted Kooser is one of the nation’s most highly regarded poets and served as the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 - 2006. During his second term he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems, Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). A Presidential Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he is the author of twelve full-length collections of poetry. Over the years his works have appeared in many periodicals including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Nation, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and Antioch Review. Koosers’ poems are included in textbooks and anthologies used in both secondary schools and college classrooms across the country. He has received two NEA fellowships in poetry and many other national and regional awards.
In addition to poetry, Kooser has written in a variety of forms including personal essays, and literary criticism. His first book of prose, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (University of Nebraska Press, 2002), won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003 and Third Place in the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award in Nonfiction for 2002. The book was chosen as the Best Book Written by a Midwestern Writer for 2002 by Friends of American Writers. It also won the Gold Award for Autobiography in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards.
For a number of years, Kooser owned and operated Windflower Press which specialized in the publication of contemporary poetry. Though inactive now, Windflower published a number of books as well as two literary magazines, The Salt Creek Reader (1967-1975) and The Blue Hotel (1980-1981). The Salt Creek Reader was awarded several grants of support from the National Endowment of the Arts through The Coordination Council of Literary Magazines. Kooser published several anthologies through Windflower Press. One of these, The Windflower Home Almanac of Poetry, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best books from small presses for 1980. Seventeen Danish Poets in Translation received international notice, and As Far As I Can See; Contemporary Writing of the Middle Plains is in use as a text in secondary schools and colleges across the plains region. In 1999, Kooser published Roy Scheele's Keeping the Horses as a fundraising project for the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association.
Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939, Kooser earned a BS at Iowa State University in 1962 and an MA at the University of Nebraska in 1968. He has received several honorary doctorates. He is a former vice-president of Lincoln Benefit Life Copmpany, where he worked for many years. He lives on an acreage near the town of Garland, Nebraska, with his wife, Kathleen Rutledge, and their dogs, Alice and Howard. He also has a son, Jeff, and a granddaughter, Margaret.
Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,