Poet Laureate to Speak at UT Libraries

he Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser, will speak on the UT campus at noon on Friday, November 5, in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of Hodges Library. The event is free and open to the public.

The Library of Congress announced Kooser’s appointment in August. Notable poets who have also served as Poet Laureate include Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rita Dove. Kooser, 65, replaces Pulitzer Prize-winner Louise Gluck in the eight-month position.

“Ted Kooser is a major poetic voice for rural and small town America, and the first Poet Laureate to be chosen from the Great Plains,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington.

“Poetry can enrich everyday experience, making our ordinary world seem quite magical and special,” Kooser said in a New York Times interview. Poetry critic Dana Gioia, author of Can Poetry Matter, said “Kooser has written more perfect poems than any poet of his generation.”

Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939, Kooser graduated from Iowa State University in 1962. He received a master’s degree in 1968 from the University of Nebraska. While in graduate school, he went to work for an insurance company. This connection often causes him to be compared to poet Wallace Stevens, who was also an insurance company executive.

“I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a young man, but realized I’d have to make a living somehow. I tried high school teaching but was incapable of maintaining discipline in the classroom and the students ran right over me. In 1964, after being tossed out of graduate school because I was a completely undisciplined scholar, I went to work at an ‘entry level’ job in a life insurance company and over twenty-five years was gradually elevated to a vice presidency,” said Kooser, in an interview with Barnes and Noble.com.

“During those years, I wrote every morning from 5:30 until about 7:00. I never saw myself as an insurance executive, but as a writer in need of a paying job.”

Kooser has written 10 collections of poetry, most recently Delights and Shadows, published by Copper Canyon Press this year. His work has also appeared in a number of periodicals including The New Yorker, The Hudson Review, and Prairie Schooner.

This event is sponsored by the John C. Hodges Better English Fund, Writers in the Library, and the Library Development Fund.

For more information about Ted Kooser, visit his page on the Library of Congress Web site.

For more information about Writers in the Library, visit our Web site.

Ted Kooser
Friday, November 5
Noon
John C. Hodges Library Auditorium
free and open to the public

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