Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser Visits Washington College for Sophie Kerr Weekend

Chestertown, MD — Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser will kick off Washington College's annual Sophie Kerr Weekend with a reading in the Norman James Theatre on Friday, March 27, at 4 p.m.

Held every March at Washington College, the Sophie Kerr Weekend gives a group of high school-age writers a chance to experience the College's renowned creative writing offerings through readings, seminars and small-group workshops with visiting authors and faculty members.

Ted Kooser is one of the nation's most highly regarded poets and served two terms as the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006. During his second term he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems, Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004).

A Presidential Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kooser is the author of 12 full-length collections of poetry. Over the years his works have appeared in many periodicals including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Nation, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and Antioch Review.

Kooser's poems are included in textbooks and anthologies used in both secondary schools and college classrooms across the country. He has received two NEA fellowships in poetry and many other national and regional awards.

During his tenure as Poet Laureate, Kooser made approximately 200 appearances nationwide and was interviewed approximately 100 times.

In addition to poetry, Kooser has written in a variety of forms, from personal essays to literary criticism. His first book of prose, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (University of Nebraska Press, 2002), won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003 and Third Place in the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award in Nonfiction for 2002. The book was chosen as the Best Book Written by a Midwestern Writer for 2002 by Friends of American Writers. It also won the Gold Award for Autobiography in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards.

Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939, Kooser earned a B.S. at Iowa State University in 1962 and an M.A. at the University of Nebraska in 1968. In addition, he has received several honorary doctorates.

By introducing aspiring young scribes to the flourishing writing environment at Washington College, the Sophie Kerr Weekend honors the legacy of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has enriched Washington College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to Washington College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most "ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor"—the famed Sophie Kerr Prize—and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships and to help defray the costs of student publications.

Admission to Ted Kooser's March 27 presentation is free and open to the public.

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