Nebraska Authors

William Kloefkorn

AKA: Bill

Born 1932-08-12 Attica, KS (USA)

Died 2011-05-19
Lincoln, NE (USA)

Bill Kloefkorn was named Nebraska State Poet by the State Legislature in 1982, and this was then a lifetime appointment to be successor, after a decade long interregnum, to Nebraska Poet Laureate John Neihardt. The name of the office was altered so Neihardt would remain permanent Nebraska Poet Laureate. Kloefkorn was celebrated as State Poet until his death in 2011. He would sometimes remind people that he was also a champion hog caller.

Kloefkorn grew up in a farming family in Attica, Kansas and came to Nebraska in 1962 to teach English at Wesleyan University in Lincoln after college and a stint in the Marine Corps. His accessibility and his understanding of the hard facts of rural life endeared him to Nebraskans. He had a distinguished career, publishing some thirty poetry collections, collections of short stories, and memoirs. He was as gifted a writer of autobiography as he was a poet, with four volumes of memoirs published by the University of Nebraska Press. He took his duties as a public poet seriously, and traveled all over the state to give readings, workshops and seminars. He mentored many students and younger writers. Kloefkorn Elementary school in Lincoln is named after him.

Kloefkorn files include a somewhat annotated bibliography (2009) that remains useful for library visitors. In addition to Kloefkorn files see also files on the Nebraska State Poet debate in 1982 (which came to us from Bernice Slote) and State Poet 2013 (new regime with limited terms for State Poets).


Places Lived

Lincoln, NE
California (Camp Pendleton)

Author Of

  • Biography
  • Fiction
  • Poetry


Poetry; Short Stories; Autobiography


Bachelor and Masters degrees, 1954 and 1958, Emporia State University-Kansas, Emporia, KS
University of Nebraska-Lincoln (completed required doctoral work except dissertation), Lincoln, NE


High School English Teacher
Professor of English at Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE

Places Worked

Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE


John H. Ames Reading Series, Featured Reader, 19 December 1985, 15 March 1990, 13 November 2003, 16 November 2006 and 21 September 2008
Nebraska 150 Books honor for This Death by Drowning, 2017
Nebraska: This Place, These People
Nebraska State Poet in September, 1982
Nebraska Literary Heritage Association’s Literary Heritage Award, 1992
Roy G. Story Award, 1995
Placed first in Rainmaker Awards competition, 1996
Honorary Doctorates from Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1999, Midland College, 1999, Ripon College, Ripon, Wisconsin, 2003
Honored at the Nebraska Literature Festival, 2001
Honored at the Nebraska Book Festival, 2007 for the 25th anniversary of his designation as Nebraska State Poet
Nebraska State Poet


Ted Genoways
Rick Cypert
Marge Saiser
"Loup River Expeditionary Force" with Cypert and Leon Satterfield


Alvin Turner as Farmer. 1972, 1974.
A Go Big Red Poetry Extravaganza. 1972.
Uncertain the Final Run to Winter. 1973, 1974
Loony. 1975.
Ludi Jr. 1976
Stocker. 1978.
Cottonwood County: Poems by William Kloefkorn and Ted Kooser. 1979.
Leaving Town. 1979.
Not Such a Bad Place to Be. 1980.
Let the Dance Begin. 1981.
Platte Valley Homestead. 1981.
Houses and Beyond. 1982.
Mosaics: In Commemoration of the Nebraska State Capitol. 1982.
Honeymoon for Doris. 1983.
Collecting for the Wichita Beacon. 1984.
A Life Like Mine. 1984.
Dragging Sand Creek for Minnows. 1992.
Where the Visible Sun Is. 1989.
Going Out, Coming Back. 1993.
Voices of the Plains. 1989. (audio cassette series)
Covenants. 1996. (with David Lee)
Drinking the Tin Cup Dry. 1989.
Burning the Hymnal. 1994.
Among the Living. 2000.
Fielding Imaginary Grounders. 2003.
Out of Attica. 2008.
The Coldest Christmas or How Do You Start a Reindeer? 1993.
Treehouse: New and Selected Poems. 1996.
Covenants. 1996. (with David Lee)
Wellsprings: A Collection of Poems From Six Nebraska Poets. 1995. (contributor)
Time to Sink Her Pretty Little Ship. 1999.
This Death By Drowning. 1997.
Welcome to Carlos. 2000.
Loup River Psalter. 2001.
Sergeant Patrick Gass, Chief Carpenter. 2002.
Restoring the Burnt Child: A Primer. 2003.
Shadowboxing. 2003.
Sunrise, Dayglow, Sunset, Moon. 2004.
At Home on This Moveable Earth. 2006.
Still Life Moving. 2006. (with artwork by Carlos Frey)
Breathing in the Fullness of Time. 2009.
Swallowing the Soap: New and Selected Poems. 2011.
Nebraska: This Place, These People. 2010.
Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017. 2017. (Contributor)

Kloefkorn has been a featured author in the Ames Reading Series on a number of occasions. Following are videos of these events:

December 1985:

March 1990:

November 2003:

November 2006:

September 2008:

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William Kloefkorn

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)