poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

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.

 

A Happy Birthday

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.

From Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser. Copyright © 2004 by Ted Kooser. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.

From Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser. Copyright © 2004 by Ted Kooser. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa in 1939.

by this poet

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
poem

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

poem
The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun
that bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion
whose flowers have faded, like those of summer,
and a small brown spider has hung out her web
on a line between porch post and chain
so that no one may swing without breaking it.
She is saying it’s time that the