Ted Kooser (1939 - Present)

Ted Kooser (b. April 25, 1939, Ames, Iowa) is an American poet.

On August 12, 2004, he was named Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by the Librarian of Congress to serve a term from October 2004 through May 2005. Kooser lives in Garland, Nebraska, and much of his work focuses on the Great Plains. Like Wallace Stevens, Kooser spent much of his working years as an executive in the insurance industry, although Kooser sardonically noted in an interview with the Washington Post that Stevens had far more time to write at work than he ever did. Kooser graduated from Iowa State University in 1962 and received a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska in 1968. Kooser has won two NEA Literary Fellowships (in 1976 and 1984), the Pushcart Prize, the Nebraska Book Awards for Poetry (2001) and Nonfiction (2004), the Stanley Kunitz Prize (1984), and the James Boatwright Prize.

Kooser described his writing philosophy in comments for the journal, Midwest Quarterly, in 1999: “Every stranger’s tolerance for poetry is compromised by much more important demands on his or her time. Therefore, I try to honor my reader’s patience and generosity by presenting what I have to say as clearly and succinctly as possible …. Also, I try not to insult the reader’s good sense by talking down; I don’t see anything to gain by alluding to intellectual experiences that the reader may not have had. I do what I can to avoid being rude or offensive; most strangers, understandably, have a very low tolerance for displays of pique or anger or hysteria. Being harangued by a poet rarely endears a reader. I am also extremely wary of over cleverness; there is a definite limit to how much intellectual showing off a stranger can tolerate.”

Poems By Ted Kooser


A Birthday Poem (1 Comment »)

Solo: A Journal of Poetry, Premiere Issue

After Years (No Comments »)
In January (2 Comments »)

Sure Signs

Selecting A Reader (3 Comments »)
Analysis, meaning and summary of Ted Kooser's poem Selecting A Reader


  1. ea says:

    Who would want a woman like that reading their poems? lol. Sounds like a bimbo – that they would think of cleaning their raincoat over poems, but then I realize that we are talking about Ted Kooser’s poems here.

  2. Benjamin says:

    Ted Kooser always expressed simplicity in his work, so I’m supposing that it’s not too metaphoric in what he’s trying to say. Maybe he really is saying that a person with not enough money to even wash their raincoat should focus on that neccessity over purchasing his poem. It could be more but I don’t see anything that lends itself into metaphor.

  3. Joshua says:

    It was interesting for me to note that Ted Kooser’s “ideal” reader is one who chooses to not even purchase his poetry, but rather spend her money on more practical things.

    I’m having a hard time deciding for myself if Kooser is speaking in metaphor or symbolism, or if he is being literal in his remarks that his perfect reader wouldn’t even bother to read his work.

    Does anyone have any additional comments on this?

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