Ted Kooser Biography

Headshot of Ted Kooser

Hailed by Dana Gioia as a writer "who has written more perfect poems than any poet of his generation," Kooser is widely praised for his plainspoken style, his gift for metaphor, and his quiet discoveries of beauty in ordinary things. Reviewing Weather Central for Poetry, poet and critic David Baker wrote: "Kooser documents the dignities, habits, and small griefs of daily life, our hunger for connection, our struggle to find balance in natural and unnaturally human worlds." In announcing his appointment as Poet Laureate, Librarian of Congress James 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."

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939. He received his B.A. from Iowa State and his M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He is the author of a number of collections of poetry, including Flying at Night (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon, 2004); Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (Copper Canyon, 2003) written with fellow poet and longtime friend, Jim Harrison; Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison (2000), which won the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for poetry; Weather Central (1994); One World at a Time (1985); and Sure Signs (1980). His nonfiction books include The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (University of Nebraska Press, 2005) and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (University of Nebraska Press, 2002).

His many honors include two NEA fellowships in poetry, a Pushcart Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Prize from Columbia, the Boatwright Prize from Shenandoah, the Pulitzer Prize, and an appointment as U. S. Poet Laureate.

He is a professor in the English Department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives on an acreage near the village of Garland, Nebraska, with his wife Kathleen Rutledge, the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.

Ted Kooser Photographs

Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.