Great Plains Poet Next U.S. Laureate

Great Plains poet Ted Kooser of Nebraska will be the next poet laureate of the United States.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington planned to officially announce the appointment today.

"Ted Kooser is a major poetic voice for rural and small town America and the first poet laureate chosen from the Great Plains," Billington said. "His verse reaches beyond his native region to touch on universal themes in accessible ways."

Kooser, 65, replaces Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Gluck in the eight-month position. Read all about it.

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Flying at Night

Flying at Night

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 shimmering novas, tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

Ted Kooser

Selecting a Reader

Selecting A Reader

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.

--Ted Kooser

After Years

After Years

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

Ted Kooser

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