Project Description

The Poetry Foundation has formed a partnership with the Library of Congress to support the American Life in Poetry project, an initiative of Ted Kooser, the 2004-2006 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry, and we believe we can add value for newspaper and online readers by doing so. There are no costs or obligations for reprinting the columns, though we do require that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration, along with the complete copyright, permissions and credit information, exactly as supplied with each column.

"Newspapers are close to my heart and my family," said Kooser, whose wife and son both work in journalism. "As Poet Laureate I want to show the people who read newspapers that poetry can be for them, can give them a chuckle or an insight." Poetry was long a popular staple in the daily press. According to Kooser, "Readers enjoyed it. They would clip verses, stick them in their diaries, enclose them in letters. They even took time to memorize some of the poems they discovered."

In recent years poetry has all but disappeared from newsprint.Yet the attraction to it is still strong. Kooser observed that "Poetry has remained a perennial expression of our emotional, spiritual and intellectual lives, as witnessed by the tens of thousands of poems written about the tragedy of September 11 that circulated on the Internet. Now I'm hoping to convince editors that there could be a small place in their papers for poetry, that it could add a spot of value in the eyes of readers. Best of all, it won't cost a penny."

Ted Kooser chooses poems that are brief and that will be enjoyable and enlightening to newspaper readers. Each week we post one column that you may download for use, or you may browse our archive of previous columns to find one you prefer. You may also sign-up for the weekly delivery of the column by email. Registration is required for publications wishing to reprint the columns.

John Barr, President of the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation, noted that the Foundation is committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. "It is an honor," he said, "to be allied with the Library of Congress. Through the office of Poet Laureate, the Library has done much to celebrate the best poetry and enlarge its audience. We are natural partners in the American Life in Poetry project, which will help get good poetry back into the mainstream."

American Life in Poetry is funded and supported by The Poetry Foundation, the publisher of Poetry magazine. Administrative support has been provided by the English Department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where the offices of the American Life in Poetry project are located.