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Lecture Preview/Ted Kooser, Poet Laureate

Ted Kooser, current U.S. Poet Laureate and 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, will give a poetry reading at 8 pm on Wednesday as part of the Adamson Visiting Writers Series. The reading will take place in the Adamson Wing of Baker Hall.

As a poet, Kooser is known for the accessibility of his words, language, and ideas. A professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kooser is the author of 11 full-length collections of poetry. He won the Pulitzer for his book Delights and Shadows, a compilation of poetry published by Cooper Canyon Press.

Kooser was appointed the Library of Congress?s 13 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in the fall of 2004.
According to the Library of Congress website, Kooser inaugurated the program ?American Life in Poetry? (www.americanlifeinpoetry.org) during his first term as Poet Laureate. In the program, which offers a free weekly column to local newspapers around the country, Kooser provides a brief introduction to a poem by a living American each week. According to the Library of Congress, ?this initiative offers the chance for poets to reach tens of thousands of readers.?

Kooser has written in a variety of forms, including plays, fiction, personal essays, and literary criticism. His first book of prose, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps, garnered several national awards.
Kooser earned a BS at Iowa State University in 1962 and an MA at the University of Nebraska in 1968. He is a former vice-president of the Lincoln Benefit Life, where he worked as an insurance representative.

?It?s been interesting to watch him devote a number of years to a career as a poet and to have been recognized by the Library of Congress and the Pulitzer Prize Committee,? said Gerald Costanzo, professor of English and founder of Carnegie Mellon University Press. According to Costanzo, the pair have been friends for more than 30 years.

The Carnegie Mellon University Press published Kooser?s collection Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison, in 2001. ?As a friend of his, I wanted to publish that book [on cancer recovery],? said Costanzo. The book won the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for poetry.

?I think it?s important to know we are very lucky to have him reading for us, and that he is a wonderful poet who is finally getting the recognition he deserves,? said professor of English Jim Daniels.
Three of the last five Pulitzer winners, including Kooser, either started or spent some portion of their careers with the Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Wednesday will mark the third time Kooser has read at Carnegie Mellon. A reception will follow the reading, which is free and open to the public.