American Life in Poetry
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The Poetry Foundation

Library of Congress

University of Nebraska
at Lincoln


The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences. In the coming year, the Foundation will sponsor a recitation contest in schools, a major new poetry website, and an unprecedented study to understand poetry's place in American culture.

Each year The Poetry Foundation brings a major poet to Chicago to read from his or her work on Poetry Day. In 2004, the newly appointed U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser read on November 16th in Chicago to mark the fiftieth year of Poetry Day. Inaugurated by Robert Frost in 1955, Poetry Day is now the most distinguished poetry reading series in the country, having presented T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Carl Sandburg, W. H. Auden, Anne Sexton, John Ashbery, James Merrill, Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, and Seamus Heaney. Billy Collins, also a Poet Laureate, appeared at Poetry Day 2002, in celebration of Poetry magazine's 90th Anniversary.

Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe's "Open Door" policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry's mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H. D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented — often for the first time — works by virtually every significant poet of the 20th century. Poetry has always been independent, unaffiliated with any institution or university — or with any single poetic or critical movement or aesthetic school. It continues to print the major English-speaking poets, while presenting emerging talents, in all their variety. In recent years, more than a third of the authors published in Poetry have been young writers appearing for the first time. On average, the magazine receives over 90,000 submissions per year, from around the world.

For more information: http://www.poetrymagazine.org


The Poetry and Literature Center in the Library of Congress administers the office of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position which has existed since 1936 when the late Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry there. Since then, many of the nation's most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 (December 20, 1985), as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The Poet Laureate suggests poets to read in the Library's literary series and plans other special events during his or her term in office. The Library keeps to a minimum the specific duties required of the Poet Laureate in order to permit incumbents to work on their own projects while at the Library. Each brings a new emphasis to the position.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the appointment of Ted Kooser to be the 13th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress on August 12, 2004. On making the appointment, Billington said, "Ted Kooser is a major poetic voice for rural and small town America and the first Poet Laureate chosen from the Great Plains. His verse reaches beyond his native region to touch on universal themes in accessible ways." Kooser opened the Library's annual literary series on October 7, 2004 with a reading from his work.

For more information: http://www.loc.gov/poetry/laureate.html


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, chartered in 1869, is an educational institution of international stature. A member of the Association of American Universities, Nebraska is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as a Research Intensive university. The Department of English seeks to provide for the diverse needs of its students by offering them the opportunity to read widely, to understand and enjoy what they read, and to express themselves both orally and in writing with ease, force and clarity. Through the practice of writing and the study of language and literature, the department strives to stimulate humanistic learning and the capacity to respond rationally and imaginatively to literature and the life it reflects. The Department of English offers MA and PhD work in ten major fields of study: Medieval, Renaissance, Restoration and Eighteenth-Century, Nineteenth-Century British, American Literature to 1900, Modern British and American, Composition and Rhetoric, Creative Writing, Women's Literature, Plains Literature, Ethnic Literature, and Criticism.

Ted Kooser is a professor in the English Department of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln; he gratefully acknowledges the administrative resources provided by the Department of English in support of the American Life in Poetry project.

For more information: http://www.unl.edu/english/

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