Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985


Named U.S. Poet Laureate for 2004-2006, Ted Kooser is one of America's masters of the short metaphorical poem. Dana Gioia has remarked that Kooser has written more perfect poems than any poet of his generation.

In Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985, Kooser has selected poems from two of his earlier works, Sure Signs and One World at a Time (1985). Taken together or read one at a time, these poems clearly show why William Cole, writing in the Saturday Review, called Ted Kooser "a ...

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Flying At Night: Poems 1965-1985

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Named U.S. Poet Laureate for 2004-2006, Ted Kooser is one of America's masters of the short metaphorical poem. Dana Gioia has remarked that Kooser has written more perfect poems than any poet of his generation.

In Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985, Kooser has selected poems from two of his earlier works, Sure Signs and One World at a Time (1985). Taken together or read one at a time, these poems clearly show why William Cole, writing in the Saturday Review, called Ted Kooser "a wonderful poet," and why Peter Stitt, writing in the Georgia Review, proclaimed him "a skilled and cunning writer. . . . An authentic 'poet of the American people.'"

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his ten books of poetry, Kooser has celebrated the simple things-and won a Pulitzer Prize for his efforts. Now, with his 2005 appointment to a second term as U.S. poet laureate, he has even more to celebrate. One of Kooser's first acts as laureate was to launch a program called "American Life in Poetry" (, which offers newspapers nationwide a free weekly column introducing a poem by a living poet. (Good fuel for reading group discussions?) For readers who need to catch up with Kooser himself, this book presents two significant collections, Sure Signs and One World at a Time, that have been unavailable. (LJ 4/15/05) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Will one day rank alongside of Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams."

Minneapolis Tribune

"Ted Kooser is a poet whose company will always be welcome, whether in Nebraska or in East Anglia."

Hudson Review

“His trademark star turn: Kooser smoothly, seamlessly elevates the humdrum moments to the sublime. . . . His attitude that ‘poetry is communication’ is refreshing in an era when so many poets seem to be babbling to themselves, giving us pages ripped out of their narcissistic diaries.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Now that he has been appointed Poet Laureate of the United States, he should receive the readership he deserves.”
TLS (Times Literary Supplements)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822958772
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 158
  • Sales rank: 325,200
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser was named U.S. Poet Laureate for 2004-2006. He was born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939. Kooser was educated in the Ames public schools, at Iowa State University, and the University of Nebraska. His awards include two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Stanley Kunitz Prize from Columbia magazine, and the 1981 Society of Midland Authors Award for Poetry for Sure Signs.

Good To Know

Kooser revealed some interesting facts about himself in our interview:

"I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a young man, but realized that I'd have to make a living somehow. I tried high school teaching but was incapable of maintaining discipline in the classroom and the students ran right over me. In 1964, after being tossed out of graduate school because I was a completely undisciplined scholar, I went to work at an "entry level" job in a life insurance company and over twenty five years was gradually elevated to a vice presidency.

During those years I wrote every morning from 5:30 till about 7:00. I never saw myself as an insurance executive, but rather as a writer in need of a paying job."

"I love living in rural America, away from the noise and clamor of the city, and I am completely content to go all week without speaking to anyone but my wife and my dog. My wife, Kathleen Rutledge, is the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star, the daily newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska, and she helps keep me up on the news. I rarely leave home unless I can't find a good excuse not to go.

I write and paint and do chores around the farm, and am immensely thankful for every new day."

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    1. Hometown:
      Garland, Nebraska
    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Ames, Iowa
    1. Education:
      B.S., Iowa State University, 1962; M.A., University of Nebraska, 1968

Table of Contents

Selecting a reader 3
First snow 4
An old photograph 5
The constellation Orion 6
The salesman 7
Old soldiers' home 8
Self-portrait at thirty-nine 9
Christmas Eve 10
Visiting mountains 11
The leaky faucet 12
A frozen stream 13
Living near the rehabilitation home 14
Late February 15
A drive in the country 17
Spring plowing 18
Sitting all evening alone in the kitchen 19
Sure signs 20
A summer night 21
In a country cemetery in Iowa 22
The man with the hearing aid 23
The very old 24
Walking beside a creek 25
Book club 26
At the end of the weekend 28
Uncle Adler 29
In the corners of fields 30
How to make rhubarb wine 31
Late lights in Minnesota 33
The afterlife 34
A widow 35
So this is Nebraska 36
Fort Robinson 38
How to foretell a change in the weather 39
Snow fence 41
In an old apple orchard 42
An empty place 43
After the funeral : cleaning out the medicine cabinet 44
The grandfather cap 45
Shooting a farmhouse 46
Beer bottle 48
Sleeping cat 49
North of alliance 50
Late September 51
Carrie 52
For a friend 53
Grandfather 54
Looking for you, Barbara 55
Pocket poem 56
Moles 57
Notes on the death of Nels Paulssen, farmer, at the ripe old age of 93 58
Advice 59
After my grandmother's funeral 60
A hot night in wheat country 61
Five P.M. 62
Abandoned farmhouse 63
The blind always come as such a surprise 64
Furnace 65
West window 66
Boarding house 67
A letter from Aunt Belle 68
At the bait stand 69
The tattooed lady 70
A death at the office 71
There is always a little wind 72
The widow Lester 73
Houses at the edge of town 74
The old woman 75
A place in Kansas 76
Tom Ball's barn 77
My grandfather dying 78
The red wing church 79
Highway 30 80
Birthday 81
The failed suicide 82
The goldfish floats to the top of his life 83
They had torn off my face at the office 84
Year's end 85
New Year's Day 86
Walking to work 87
Sunday morning 88
Flying at night 91
A fencerow in early March 92
Just now 93
A birthday card 94
In the basement of the Goodwill store 95
Camera 96
A room in the past 97
In January, 1962 98
Tillage marks 99
A child's grave marker 100
Father 101
At midnight 104
Central 105
The fan in the window 106
Myrtle 107
Daddy longlegs 108
Good-bye 109
The giant slide 110
A roadside shrine in Kansas 111
Decoration day 112
A Monday in May 113
A buffalo skull 114
Laundry 115
The mouse 116
Ladder 117
Walking at noon near the Burlington Depot in Lincoln, Nebraska 118
A patch of sunlight 120
Carp 121
At the center 122
A sunset 123
The ride 124
At nightfall 125
At the office early 126
Cleaning a bass 127
An empty shotgun shell 128
A quarter moon just before dawn 129
A letter 130
Latvian neighborhood 131
The Voyager II satellite 132
The witness 133
As the president spoke 134
The pitch 135
The sigh 136
The onion woman 137
Hobo jungle 138
An August night 139
The urine specimen 140
Geronimo's mirror 141
Porch swing in September 142
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