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About this poet

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa on April 25, 1939. He received his BA from Iowa State and his MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including Kindest Regards: New and Selected Poem (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), Splitting an Order (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004), which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005; Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000), which won the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for poetry; Weather Central (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994); One World at a Time (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985); and Sure Signs (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980).

His fiction and nonfiction books include The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (University of Nebraska Press, 2007); Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (Copper Canyon Press, 2003) written with fellow poet and longtime friend, Jim Harrison; and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (Bison Books, 2002), which won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003.

His honors and awards include two NEA fellowships in poetry, a Pushcart Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Prize from Columbia, and a Merit Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. In the fall of 2004, Kooser was appointed the thirteenth United States Poet Laureate.

He is a visiting professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives with his wife, Kathleen Rutledge, in rural Nebraska.

 

Applesauce

I liked how the starry blue lid
of that saucepan lifted and puffed,
then settled back on a thin
hotpad of steam, and the way
her kitchen filled with the warm,
wet breath of apples, as if all
the apples were talking at once,
as if they’d come cold and sour
from chores in the orchard,
and were trying to shoulder in
close to the fire. She was too busy
to put in her two cents’ worth
talking to apples. Squeezing
her dentures with wrinkly lips,
she had to jingle and stack
the bright brass coins of the lids
and thoughtfully count out
the red rubber rings, then hold
each jar, to see if it was clean,
to a window that looked out
through her back yard into Iowa.
And with every third or fourth jar
she wiped steam from her glasses,
using the hem of her apron,
printed with tiny red sailboats
that dipped along with leaf-green
banners snapping, under puffs
or pale applesauce clouds
scented with cinnamon and cloves,
the only boats under sail
for at least two thousand miles.

From Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). Copyright © 2004 by Ted Kooser. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

From Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). Copyright © 2004 by Ted Kooser. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa in 1939.

by this poet

poem
This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness. 
I could easily have switched on a lamp, 
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page 
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.
poem
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,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like
poem
Slap of the screen door, flat knock
of my grandmother's boxy black shoes
on the wooden stoop, the hush and sweep 
of her knob-kneed, cotton-aproned stride 
out to the edge and then, toed in
with a furious twist and heave, 
a bridge that leaps from her hot red hands
and hangs there shining for fifty years
over