Published Works

Ted Kooser has published a number of books, including poetry, nonfiction, and children's literature.

Poetry Books

Book Cover Title Date Description/Review Links
Cotton Candy: Poems Dipped Out of the Air Cotton Candy: Poems Dipped Out of the Air 2022

“There is much to be admired in Kooser's improvisational approach to composition.” — Publishers Weekly

“That Kooser often sees things we do not would be delight enough, but more amazing is exactly what he sees. Nothing escapes him. Everything is illuminated.” — Library Journal

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Red Stilts Red Stilts 2020 “At a time when so many of us must dwell in virtual worlds, before a screen, Red Stilts offers us over and over the wonders of everyday life rendered with precision and care. Kooser’s poems, so like the simplest of prayers themselves, remind me of what Simone Weil once wrote: ‘Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.’ It’s impossible not to relish the ‘unmixed attention’ given in each of these quietly sublime poems, which place us effortlessly back into the present moment.” — The Christian Century Buy from Publisher
Kindest Regards Kindest Regards 2018 Chosen by Library Journal as one of the five best poetry picks for 2018, Kindest Regards spans nearly five decades, featuring more than 50 pages of new writing and generous selections from 11 previous books. “As Kooser records everyday pleasures and griefs, he remembers those he will never see again and underscores the deep need we all have for connection, moments of respite and the abiding sense that our ordinary moments matter.”
Poetry Magazine
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Splitting an Order Splitting an Order 2007 “Kooser writes of elderly men in waiting rooms, of an aged couple splitting a roast beef sandwich, of a blind man who has fallen in the street, of the old people around us we never really see until we are old, too... For all their recurrent wistfulness, though, Kooser’s poems are somehow never depressing; they convey instead a strange wonder at the coming of age and a stoic acceptance of diminution.”
The Washington Post
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Valentines Valentines 2007 Valentines collects Kooser’s twenty-two years of Valentine’s Day poems, complemented with illustrations by Robert Hanna and a new poem appearing for the first time. Buy from Publisher
Flying at Night Flying at Night 2005 Flying at Night is a new compilation from University of Pittsburg Press that will include poems from Sure Signs and One World at a Time.

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Excerpt 1: Flying at Night

Delights and Shadows Delights and Shadows 2004 “For more than thirty years Ted Kooser has written poems that deftly bring dissimilar things into telling unities. Throughout a long and distinguished writing career he has worked toward clarity and accessibility, making a poetry as fresh and spontaneous as a good watercolor. A gyroscope balanced between a child's hands, a jar of buttons that recalls generations of women, and a bird briefly witnessed outside a window — each reveals the remarkable within an otherwise ordinary world.”
— Poetry Daily
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Excerpt 1 : At the Cancer...
Excerpt 2 : Father
Excerpt 3 : Skater
Excerpt 4 : Tattoo

Braided Creek Braided Creek 2003 “There are poems on the natural world, aging, dying, friendship, love and eros. There is abundant humor. ... There also is distilled wisdom.”
— Houston Chronicle
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Winter Morning Walks, 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison Winter Morning Walks, 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison 2000 This is a compilation of short imagistic poems that Ted sent as postcards to his friend, Jim Harrison, while Kooser was recovering from cancer treatment. Buy from Publisher
Weather Central Weather Central 1994 “Kooser's virtues are those traditionally ascribed to the Midwest: plainspokenness, modesty, common sense. He sits on his porch, uninterested in academic cant or the fashions of poetic schools, and takes in the world around, praising its quiet beauty....Kooser has always been an archeologist of sorts. An abandoned schoolhouse, a deserted forge, an old stoneware crock — all set him wondering, trying to reconstruct the lives of those who used them. Even in his earliest published poems, the elegiac note came naturally to Kooser, both celebration and lament for a way of life that was disappearing as farm families moved to the city.”

— The Bloomsbury Review

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The Blizzard Voices The Blizzard Voices 1986 A dramatized poetic narrative of the devastation unleashed on Nebraska Territory by the great blizzard of January 12, 1888. Drawn from the reminiscences of the survivors: the men and women who were teaching school, working the land, tending the house... when the storm arrived and changed their lives forever. Illustrated with twelve line drawings by Tom Pohrt. Buy from Publisher
One World at a Time One World at a Time 1985 In the closing poem of this new collection, a spider brushes globes of dew from her web, “one world at a time.” Since Ted Kooser's poems first began to appear in print, some twenty years ago, they have moved, as he has said, “from job to job, from love to love,” with great patience and care, as if each poem were a miniature world that needed completion before being left to stand alone. (Out of Print)
Sure Signs Sure Signs 1980 “I found it impossible to put Sure Signs down until I had finished the entire book. It was like sitting next to a box of chocolates before dinner...a collection alternately delightful and mysterious.”
— Dana Gioia, The Hudson Review
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Excerpt 1 : Carrie

Not Coming to be Barked At Not Coming to be Barked At 1976 Kooser's third full-sized collection of poems. Many of these were collected into SURE SIGNS in 1980. (Out of Print)
A Local Habitation and a Name A Local Habitation & a Name 1974 This was the first of Kooser's books to receive national recognition, being favorably reviewed in Saturday Review and elsewhere. (Out of Print)
Official Entry Blank Official Entry Blank 1969 This is Kooser's first book of poems, published when he was 30, by the University of Nebraska Press. (Out of Print)

Children's Books

Book Cover Title Date Description/Review Links
Marshmallow Clouds - Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech 2022

A freewheeling romp through the world of imagery and metaphor, this quietly startling collection of thirty poems, framed by the four elements, is about art and reality, fact and fancy. Celebrated poets Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek, along with illustrator Richard Jones, explore figures of speech in a spirited and magical way—and invite our imaginations out to play. Winner of the 2023 CLiPPA.

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Mr. Posey's New Glasses Mr. Posey's New Glasses 2019 Mr. Posey is feeling gloomy. Everything seems dull. Maybe he needs new glasses? Perhaps a trip to the Cheer Up Thrift Shop with his energetic young neighbor, Andy, will help. In a charming tale of an elderly man and his obliging young friend, former poet laureate Ted Kooser and newcomer Daniel Duncan invite us to look at the world with fresh eyes. Buy from Publisher
The Bell in the Bridge
The Bell in the Bridge 2016 “This warm, golden-tinged story from the duo behind Bag in the Wind (2010) moves slowly through a summer vacation as Charlie, staying with his grandparents for two weeks, passes the time by exploring outside ... Root’s watercolor and gouache landscapes reveal beauty in the woods and water that surround Charlie’s grandparents’ house, and he and Kooser succeed in making them grow as dear to readers as they do to Charlie.”
Publishers Weekly
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House Held Up by Trees House Held Up by Trees 2012 From Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser and rising talent Jon Klassen comes a poignant tale of loss, change, and nature's quiet triumph. At once wistful and exhilarating, this lovely, lyrical story evokes the inexorable passage of time — and the awe-inspiring power of nature to lift us up. Buy from Publisher
Bag in the Wind
Bag in the Wind 2010 One cold morning in early spring, a bulldozer pushes a pile of garbage around a landfill and uncovers an empty plastic bag — a perfectly good bag, the color of the skin of a yellow onion, with two holes for handles — that someone has thrown away. Just then, a puff of wind lifts the rolling, flapping bag over a chain-link fence and into the lives of several townsfolk — a can-collecting girl, a homeless man, a store owner — not that all of them notice. Renowned poet Ted Kooser fashions an understated yet compassionate world full of happenstance and connection, neglect and care, all perfectly expressed in Barry Root’s tender illustrations. Buy from Publisher

Nonfiction Books

Book Cover Title Date Description/Review Links
The Wheeling Year
The Wheeling Year: A Poet's Field Book 2014 “[Kooser’s] poems and this book of prose have arrived at just the right time, when we all need the reminder to lay down our phones, tablets and laptops–whatever keeps us from looking out the window or meeting the eyes of a passerby–and notice the actual world.”
—James Crews, Basalt
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Lights on a Ground of Darkness Lights on a Ground of Darkness: An Evocation of a Place and Time 2009 “It's a subject ripe for sentimentality -- a middle-aged man considers the idyllic movements of his childhood, in a small town in the Midwest at midcentury. Yet "Lights on a Ground of Darkness" (Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press: 60 pp., $10.95 paper), former U.S. poet laureate Ted Kooser's piercing look back at his mother's family, is anything but romanticized. Rather, written in a prose as spare as a winter sunset, it is an elegy, not just for Kooser's forebears but for all of us.” — David L. Ulin, LA Times Buy from Publisher
Writing Brave and Free Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing
(with Steve Cox)
2006 Sometimes setting pen to paper requires bravery, and writing well means breaking free of the rules learned in school. Liberating and emboldening the beginning writer are the goals of Ted Kooser and Steve Cox in this spirited book of practical wisdom that brings to bear decades of invaluable experience in writing, teaching, editing, and publishing. Buy from Publisher
The Poetry Home Repair Manual
The Poetry Home Repair Manual 2005 Much more than a guidebook to making and revising poems, this manual has all the comforts and merits of a long and enlightening conversation with a wise and patient old friend—a friend who is willing to share everything he’s learned about the art he’s spent a lifetime learning to execute so well. Buy from Publisher
Local Wonders Local Wonders,
Seasons in the Bohemian Alps
2002 “This is a heartfelt, plainspoken book about slowing down and appreciating the world around you.”
— Janet Maslin, CBS Sunday Morning

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