AMES, Iowa -- Ted Kooser, the U.S. poet laureate, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry on April 4 for his latest collection of poems, "Delights and Shadows."
"There are hundreds of books of fine poems published each year and to think that mine somehow made it to the top of that list is altogether amazing to me," Kooser said.
Kooser will give a reading at Iowa State, April 21 at 8 p.m. in the Great Hall of Memorial Union.
Though he has lived in Nebraska for a long time, giving a poetry reading in Ames is kind of like coming home for Kooser. He was born in Ames, went to high school there and graduated from Iowa State.
"I am very pleased to be welcomed home in this way. It means a great deal to me," he said adding that the Koosers were early settlers in Ames, and his family was centered in Story County for many years.
Kooser, 65, graduated with a B.S. from Iowa State University in 1962 and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1968. He is retired from a Lincoln life insurance company and currently is a visiting professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
He has authored 10 collections of poetry and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Poetry and other publications. He has won a number of awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Pushcart Prize.
Last August, he was appointed the U.S. poet laureate, an appointment that he has been asked to carry over for another year. One of his goals in that post is to find ways to make poetry more popular, possibly by getting it back into newspapers. He has created a newspaper column free to any paper that wishes to pick it up.
"It's been a lot of work getting it ready to go, but it's been worth it," he said. "It shows that poetry is something newspaper readers don't have to be afraid of." He described the poems as being understandable and direct. (The site can be found at www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.)
Kooser lives with his wife Kathleen Rutledge on an acreage near the town of Garland, Nebraska, with their dogs Alice and Howard.