Poets & Writers in Residence

Poets in residence

The annual Poet-In-Residence program is proudly sponsored by WWBA. Each year the program features revered and distinguished contemporary poets who continue to embody Walt Whitman’s spirit of democracy, diversity, and creativity.

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Linda Gregerson is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently of Canopy (Ecco/HarperCollins 2022). Her second collection (The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, Houghton Mifflin 1996) was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize; her third (Waterborne, Houghton Mifflin 2002) won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize; her fourth (Magnetic North, Houghton Mifflin 2007) was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also published two critical monographs and numerous essays on early modern English and contemporary American poetry. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, London Review of Books, Poetry Review, and a host of other literary journals. Among her honors are awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Poetry Society of America and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Mellon Foundations, and the Institute for Advanced Study. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Gregerson is the Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan, where she directs the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. She divides her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and London.

Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes moved to Jamaica in 1971 and spent most of his childhood and early adult life in Jamaica. He is a writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of that lush place, citing in an interview his “spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music.” Indeed, his book Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius remains the most authoritative study of the lyrics of Bob Marley. Of his seventeen collections of poetry, his most recent titles include Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon, 2013); Wheels (2011); Back of Mount Peace (2009); Hope’s Hospice (2009); Wisteria, finalist for the Patterson Memorial Prize; Impossible Flying (2007); and Gomer’s Song (2007). Progeny of Air (Peepal Tree, 1994) was the winner of the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in the UK. Other poetry collections include Resisting the Anomie (Goose Lane, 1995); Prophets (Peepal Tree, 1995); Jacko Jacobus, (Peepal Tree, 1996); and Requiem, (Peepal Tree, 1996), a suite of poems inspired by the illustrations of African American artist, Tom Feelings in his landmark book, Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo; and Shook Foil (Peepal Tree, 1998), a collection of reggae-inspired poems. His book, Midland, was awarded the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize by the Ohio University Press (2001). Dawes was a winner of a Pushcart Prize for the best American poetry of 2001 for his long poem, “Inheritance.” The poem was later selected as part of the anthology celebrating thirty years of Pushcart Prize winners.
He has published two novels: Bivouac (2009) and She’s Gone (2007), winner of the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Best First Novel. In 2007 he released A Far Cry From Plymouth Rock: A Personal Narrative. His essays have appeared in numerous journals and periodicals including Bomb Magazine, The London Review of Books, Granta, Essence, World Literature Today, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Double Take Magazine. For several years Dawes was a regular columnist on poetry for the State Newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina.
Dawes is also the editor of many anthologies including: Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green (University of South Carolina Press, forthcoming, 2013) Twenty: South Carolina Poetry Fellows (Hub City, 2006); So Much Things to Say: 100 Calabash Poets (Akashic Books, 2010; Jubilation: 50 Poets Celebrating Jamaican Independence (Peepal Tree, 2012), Wheel and Come Again: An Anthology of Reggae Poems (Peepal Tree/ Gooselane Editions 2005); The Chemistry of Color (Stepping Stone Press, 2008) A Bloom of Stones: A Tri-Lingual Anthology of Haitian Poems After the Earthquake (Peepal Tree Press, 2012) Hold Me to an Island: Caribbean Place (Peepal Tree 2012): An Anthology of Writing, Home is Where: An Anthology of African American Poetry from the Carolinas (Hub City, 2011), and Red: Contemporary Black Poetry (Peepal Tree Press, 2010).
In 2009, Dawes won an Emmy for LiveHopeLove.com, an interactive site based on Kwame Dawes’s Pulitzer Center project, HOPE: Living and loving with AIDS in Jamaica. It has won other accolades including a People’s Voice Webby Award, and was the inspiration for the music/spoken word performance Wisteria & HOPE which premiered at the National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina. In 2011, Dawes reported on HIV AIDS after the earthquake in Haiti and his poems, blogs, articles, and documentary work were a key part of the post-earthquake Haiti reporting by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting that won the National Press Club Joan Friedenberg Award for Online Journalism. Voices of Haiti was released in July 2012 as a dynamic i-book published by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Dawes’s other awards include The Forward Prize for Poetry for his first book, Progeny of Air, (1994), The Hollis Summers Prize for Poetry (Midland, 2002), a Pushcart Prize (2001), Hurston/ Wright Legacy Award for his debut collection She’s Gone (2008), the Poets and Writers Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award (2011), a a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry (2012). He received the Musgrave Silver Medal for contribution to the Arts in Jamaica (2004); the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for service to the arts in South Carolina (2008), and in 2009 he was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
Dawes is an actor, playwright, and producer, an accomplished storyteller, broadcaster, and was the lead singer in Ujamaa, a reggae band. Fifteen of his plays have been produced, and he has acted in, directed or produced several of these productions himself, most recently One Love at the Lyric Hammersmith in London. Commissioned by Talawa, Britian’s leading black theatre company, and inspired by Rogert Mais’ classic novel Brotherman, One Love takes us to the heart of the Jamaican soul, as actors, dancers, singers, life musicians, and a DJ draw on influences such as Bob Marley and Lee “Scratch” Perry to tell this powerful parable of desire and denial.
Through the years, Dawes has collaborated with musicians and artists to create a dynamic series of performances based on his poetry that have proven to be some of the most compelling and challenging presentations of poetry being performed today. His most consistent collaborator in these projects has been the poet and musician Kevin Simmonds. Their collaborations include, “Wisteria: The Performance” (Debut, Columbia, SC 2006), “I Saw Your Face: The Performance” (debut Columbia Museum of Art, 2007), “Hope: Living and Loving with HIV/ AIDS” (debut, National Black Theater Festival, Winston Salem, NC 2009) and “Voices of Haiti: The Performance” (debut National Black Theatre Festival, Winston Salem, NC 2011). These performances have been staged through out the US and abroad including a UK tour of “Wisteria” and a performance of “Voices of Haiti” in Haiti. Other similar collaborations include “Requiem: A Performance” with composer, John Carpenter based on the work of Tom Feelings, and “Brimming: The Performance” staged and designed by Kwame Dawes, himself.
Until July 2011, Dawes was Distinguished Poet in Residence, Louis Frye Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts and founder, and executive director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative. He was the director of the University of South Carolina Arts Institute. Dawes is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska, where he is a Chancellor’s Professor of English, a faculty member of Cave Canem, and a teacher in the Pacific MFA Program in Oregon. He is co-founder and programming director of the Calabash International Literary Festival, which takes place in Jamaica in May of each year.
Archive of Online Poetry of Kwame Dawes Kwame Dawes: An Archive of Online Poems
Kwame Dawes website: kwamedawes.com

Trethewey is the author of: Monument (2018), which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award, a retrospective drawing together verse that delineates the stories of working class African American women, one of the first black Civil War regiments, mestizo and mulatto figures in Casta paintings, and Gulf coast victims of Katrina; Thrall (2012), which the Washington Post called “a powerful, beautifully crafted book”; Native Guard (2007), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize; Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association; and Domestic Work (2000), which was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Trethewey is also the author of the poetry chapbook Congregation (2015) and the prose book Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2012), and she served as editor of The Best American Poetry 2017. She is also the author of the memoir Memorial Drive (2020), a chillingly personal and exquisitely wrought memoir of a daughter reckoning with the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather, and the moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of a tragedy.

Among her many honors, Trethewey is the recipient of the 2020 Bobbitt Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a 2017 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities category, as well as the 2016 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes distinguished poetic achievement. In the judge’s citation, Marilyn Nelson stated: “Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities. Whether writing of her complex family torn by tragic loss, or in diverse imagined voices from the more distant past, Trethewey encourages us to reflect, learn, and experience delight. The wide scope of her interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.”

Forrest Gander’s most recent title, Twice Alive (2021), addresses the exigencies of our historical moment and the intimacies, personal and environmental, that bind us to others and to the world. Gander’s collection Be With (2018) won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and was long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award. The Pulitzer Prize Judges citation calls it, “A collection of elegies that grapple with sudden loss, and the difficulties of expressing grief and yearning for the departed”. The New Yorker reflects on this book: “Be With is a blurted command welling up from yearnings not quite expressible in language”. Gander’s partner of more than thirty years, the poet C. D. Wright, died unexpectedly in her sleep in 2016. Later that year, a new volume by Wright, ShallCross, was published posthumously, with a dedication to Gander: “for Forrest / line, lank and long, / be with”. Gander borrows his title from that dedication, which reads like a message from beyond the grave. This collection of elegies confirms receipt of the message and returns it. Poetry often creates a supernatural-seeming rapport with the dead, but rarely has the communication between worlds felt so eerily reciprocal. In Be With, he is at once adamant about the ineffability of grief and committed to getting his inchoate “’grief-sounds’ somehow into words”.

In 2008, Gander was named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow—one of 50 artists to be recognized for artistic excellence, unique artistic vision, and significant contributions to their fields. Gander is also the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim, Howard, Whiting, and United States Artists Foundations. He has been a Library of Congress/Witter Bynner fellow and a finalist for the Pulitzer and National Book Critics Circle awards. He is a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and an elected member of The Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Gander was a Briggs-Copeland Poet at Harvard University before becoming the A.K. Seaver Professor of Literary Arts & Comparative Literature at Brown University where he taught with his wife, the poet C.D. Wright, for more than twenty years. He lives and works now in Petaluma, California. View his website.

Gander offered a master class and poetry reading on June 12, 2021. 

This event is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and is administered by The Huntington Arts Council, Inc. 

In 2015 Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed the 21st United States Poet Laureate, the first Mexican American to hold the position. In his statement of choice, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said Herrara’s poems “contain Whitman-esque multitudes that champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective” that serve to illuminate our larger American identity. Herrera grew up in California as the son to migrant farmers, which he has commented strongly shaped much of his work. A Washington Post article tells the story that “As a child, Herrera learned to love poetry by singing about the Mexican Revolution with his mother, a migrant farmworker in California. Inspired by her spirit, he has spent his life crossing borders, erasing boundaries, and expanding the American chorus”.

Herrera is the author of thirty books, including collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels, and picture books for children. His collections of poetry include Notes of the Assemblage (City Lights, 2015); Senegal Taxi (University of Arizona, 2013); Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971–2007 (City Lights, 2007); and Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse (University of New Mexico, 1999), which received the Americas Award. In 2014, he released the nonfiction work Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (Dial), which showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics—a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation. His book Jabberwalking, a children’s book focused on turning your wonder at the world around you into weird, wild, incandescent poetry, is forthcoming in 2018.

The Boston Review wrote about Notes on the Assemblage, saying “U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera appeals to Americans and artists. Herrera’s forceful poetry speaks directly and powerfully, like the address of a leader rousing his battalions to action…he forces us to confront society and its paradoxes. His summons links unadorned, unforgiving description with figurative language….Herrera also obliterates the passive relationship between a work of art and its observer. He is intimately concerned with what art does, ‘it follows you passes you dissolves ahead of you where / it is waiting for you when you get there you will not / know it until you see that it is seeing you seeing you.’ The stakes of this engagement for our communal body are viscerally felt: ‘we are not what we thought—it is / not who we were or / what we want to be’”.

His books of prose for children include: Jabberwalking (Candlewick Press, 2018); SkateFate (Rayo, 2011); Calling The Doves (Children’s Book, 2001), which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy (2006), which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box (HarperCollins, 2005), which tells the tragedy of 9/11 through the eyes of a young Puerto Rican girl.

From 2012–2014, Herrera served as California’s Poet Laureate, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown. As the state Poet Laureate, Herrera created the i-Promise Joanna Project, an anti-bullying poetry project. Joanna was an elementary school girl who was bullied and killed in an after school fight in Long Beach. The first half asks students to send in poems about experiences and effects of bullying. The second half of the project is to take action in preventing bullying. Herrera hopes to collect the poems and publish it as a book in the future. Other projects included Answer Cancer with a Poem, Show Me Your Papers, and The Most Incredible and Biggest Poem on Unity in the World.

Influenced by Allen Ginsberg and Luis Valdez and his own immersion into the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, Herrera writes passionately about social issues. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth. His work has been known to cross genres, even into opera and dance theatre. While 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Borders chronicles Herrera’s involvement with spoken word and street movement performance troupes across the nation, his attention to language-centered texts can be seen in Half of the World in Light. While calling Herrera “the elder statesman of Mexican American poetry,” former National Endowment for the Arts chairman Dana Gioia points to the significance of his connection to a younger generation. Herrera is “the first U.S. laureate whose work has emerged from the new oral traditions that have been transforming American poetry over the past ­quarter-century,” Gioia says. “He can write traditional poems for the page, but many of his poems are designed primarily for spoken delivery. His work is performative, and communal. In this sense, Herrera speaks powerfully to younger poets and audiences” (Washington Post).

Herrera has received fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the University of California at Berkeley, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the Stanford Chicano Fellows Program, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2016, he was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the 36th L.A. Times Book Prizes. Herrera was elected an Academy Chancellor in 2011. He was educated at UCLA and Stanford University in Social Anthropology, and received his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and served as chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at CSU-Fresno. Herrera recently retired from the Creative Writing Department at UC Riverside. He lives in Fresno, California with his partner, the poet and performance artist, Margarita Robles.


Jane Hirshfield is the author of eight collections of poetry, including—most recently—The Beauty (long-listed for the National Book Award); Come, ThiefAfter (shortlisted for England’s T.S. Eliot Prize and named a “best book of 2006” by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the London Financial Times); Given Sugar, Given Salt (finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award); The Lives of the Heart; and The October Palace, as well as two books of essays, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Knopf, 2015), which was awarded the Northern California Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, and Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. She has also edited and co-translated four books containing the work of poets from the past: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Komachi & Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Japanese Court; Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by WomenMirabai: Ecstatic Poems; and The Heart of Haiku, on Matsuo Basho, named an Amazon Best Book of 2011. 

Hirshfield’s other honors include The Poetry Center Book Award; fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets; Columbia University’s Translation Center Award; and (both twice) The California Book Award and the Northern California Book Reviewers Award. In 2012 she received the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. 

Hirshfield’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, Harper’s, The Nation, Orion, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, eight editions of The Best American Poetry, five Pushcart Prize Anthologies, and many other publications. Her work frequently appears on Garrison Keillor’s “Writers Almanac” program and she has been featured in two Bill Moyers PBS television specials. In fall 2004, Jane Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. In 2012, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. 

Poet, essayist, and critic Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, and came to the US at the age of five. He earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from Columbia University. Among his literary influences are Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, and William Blake.

Praised for its elasticity, vivaciousness, and intimacy of tone, Seshadri’s poetry includes elements of Indian mythology and religion. His experience as a biologist for the National Marine Fish Service formed the centerpiece of his first collection of poems, Wild Kingdom (1996). His 2003 second collection The Long Meadow won the James Laughlin Award and his third collection, 3 Sections (2013), won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The Pulitzer committee described the book as “a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless”.

Seshadri has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the NEA, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has been awarded The Paris Review’s Bernard F. Conners Long Poem Prize and the MacDowell Colony’s Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement. He has worked as an editor at the New Yorker and has taught at Bennington College. Currently, he teaches undergraduate writing courses at Sarah Lawrence College as well as directs the graduate non-fiction writing program. He lives in Brooklyn.

Marilyn Hacker is an award-winning poet best known for formal poems that mix high culture and colloquial speech. Born in New York City, educated at Washington Square College of New York University and the Art Students League, Hacker’s career spans forty years establishing herself as a preeminent voice in the tradition of Robert Lowell and Adrienne Rich. Openly lesbian since the late 1970s, Hacker has created a poetry that is feminist, political, and intimate at once. Hacker couches the urgency of love, desire, and alienation in brash, up-to-the minute language, writing from her perspective as a feminist, lesbian, and cancer survivor. 

Hacker has received many of poetry’s highest honors, including a National Book Award for her first collection, Presentation Piece (1974). In Separations (1976), Hacker begins to articulate her dissatisfaction with woman’s traditional roles. Taking Notice (1980) and Assumptions (1985) contain reflections on the women in her life, including her mother, friends, and lovers. Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons (1986), a poetic novel of a lesbian love affair, is an evocative and sensual work. In Going Back to the River (1990) the poet comes to terms with loss after the dissolution of a love affair as she writes of loves and life in Paris and New York. In Winter Numbers (1994) Hacker evokes memories linking the historical and personal disasters of her generation: the Holocaust, AIDS, and Hacker’s own fight with breast cancer. Selected Poems, 1965–1990 (1994), which contains work from five of her published books, reveals the many voices (lesbian, feminist, mother, Jew, intellectual) with which the poet speaks.

Hacker has received numerous honors, including the Bernard F. Conners Prize from the Paris Review, the John Masefield Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, the PEN Voelcker Award, the Argana International Poetry Prize from the Beit as-Shir/House of Poetry in Morocco, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2008, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Paris.

Robert Pinsky is one of America’s foremost poet-critics. Often called the last of the “civic” or public poets, Pinsky’s criticism and verse reflect his concern for a contemporary poetic diction that nonetheless speaks of a wider experience. Elected Poet Laureate of the United States in 1997, his tenure was marked by ambitious efforts to prove the power of poetry—not just as an intellectual pursuit in the ivory tower, but as a meaningful and integral part of American life. “I think poetry is a vital part of our intelligence, our ability to learn, our ability to remember, the relationship between our bodies and minds,” he told the Christian Science Monitor. “Poetry’s highest purpose is to provide a unique sensation of coordination between the intelligence, emotions, and the body. It’s one of the most fundamental pleasures a person can experience.” The Sounds of Poetry is a slim volume that can serve as a primer on the mechanics of poetry and also as a “treatise on the social functions of poetry,” according to James Longenbach in the NationAtlantic Monthly contributor David Barber noted that The Sounds of Poetry “is an achievement for which there is surprisingly little precedent: an authoritative yet accessible introduction to the tools of the poet’s trade that can be read with profit by the serious student and the amateur alike”. Barber characterized the volume as “less that of a solemn classroom lecture than that of a spirited audio tour, with Pinsky offering up various devices and motifs for inspection and providing a lively running commentary on how to fine-tune the ear to respond to the distinctive verbal energies that make poetry ‘poetic’”. In Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry, Pinsky resumes his examination of poetry’s necessity to contemporary, democratic culture. Reviewing the book for The New Republic, David Bromwich wrote, “One is never in any doubt about the tendency of Pinsky’s argument. He urges appreciation not of what the poet does in writing a poem, but of what the poet does in reading it. The poet mainly counts as one more reader. So, too, Pinsky’s idea of the place of poetry in democratic culture comes from an image of someone reading a poem to an audience”.

Critics of Pinsky’s first collection, Sadness and Happiness, compared the work to Ranier Marie Rilke, James Wright, and Robert LowellYale Review contributor Louis L. Martz declared that “Pinsky is the most exhilarating new poet that I have read since A. R. Ammons entered upon the scene”. Pinsky’s second volume was the book-length poem, An Explanation of America. Like Robert Lowell, Pinsky attempted to understand American history through a comparison to ancient Rome. “Not the least remarkable thing about Robert Pinsky’s remarkable [book],” stated Michael Hamburger in the Nation, “is that it seems to defy not only all the dominant trends in contemporary poetry but all the dominant notions—both American and non-American—of what is to be expected of an American poet”. “In its philosophical approach, classical learning, and orderly structure,” remarked Hudson Review contributor James Finn Cotter, An Explanation of America “resembles the work of William Cullen Bryant more than that of Hart Crane, but it is not old-fashioned. It is as American as Bryant’s and Crane’s long poems, as embedded in the past, and as identified with the woods and prairies”.

Pinsky continued his examination of history—sometimes national, sometimes personal—in two later collections of poetry. “History of My Heart” observed J. D. McClatchy in the New Republic, “was Pinsky’s breakthrough, and my guess is that it will come to be seen as one of the best books of the past decade”. The best poems in Pinsky’s 1990 collection, The Want Bone, according to McClatchy, “are more personal. They do not wrestle with religious angels or intellectual demons, the myths imposed on us by tradition. Instead, they address the self, those autobiographical myths we make out of memories”.

The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966–1996 “will remind readers that here is a poet who, without forming a mini-movement or setting himself loudly at odds with the dominant tendencies of American poetry, has brought into it something new,” maintained Katha Pollitt in the New York Times Book Review. Paul Breslin felt that The Figured Wheel “signals a major turn in Pinsky’s stylistic development…. [In] its hurling together of the apocalyptic and vast with the mundane and the particular, it fairly bristles with linguistic energy”. Pollitt claimed: “What makes Mr. Pinsky such a rewarding and exciting writer is the sense he gives, in the very shape and structure of his poems, of getting at the depths of human experience, in which everything is always repeated but also always new”.

Pinsky’s interest in poetry that mixed contemporary speech with wide-ranging subject matter led him in 1994 to publish a new translation of Dante’s Inferno. He had been asked, with a group of nineteen other poets, to participate in a reading of the poem at the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City in May of 1993. Pinsky became fascinated with the work of the thirteenth-century Italian poet. Pinsky said in an interview with the New York Times Book Review, “This was like being a child with a new toy. I called the translation a feat of metrical engineering, and I worked obsessively. It’s the only writing I have ever done where it’s like reading yourself to sleep each night. We have pillowcases stained with ink where my wife took the pen out of my hand at night”.

Despite the fact that about fifty English-language translations of the Inferno have been published in the 20th century alone, critics largely celebrated Pinsky’s work. “The primary strength of this translation,” declared Edward Hirsch, “is the way it maintains the original’s episodic and narrative velocity while mirroring its formal shape and character. It is no small achievement to reproduce Dante’s rhyme scheme and at the same time sound fresh and natural in English, and Pinsky succeeds in creating a supple American equivalent for Dante’s vernacular music where many others have failed”. “His skill and power as a poet inform every line of this splendid translation,” stated John Ahern in the New York Times Book Review. “He shapes sinewy lines whose edges you can actually hear. This is true verse, not the typographical arrangement of poetic prose… [I]f he does not quite attain Dante’s full symphonic range, no one has come closer”.

Pinsky was named poet laureate in 1997 and served until 2000. The position carries a modest stipend, but its appeal lies in its visibility to the general public. Formerly a retiring person, Pinsky became a public figure, and he used the notoriety to promote a new project. Under his direction, ordinary Americans were invited to name their favorite poems, and some entrants were asked to read for a permanent audio archive at the Library of Congress. Pinsky set a goal of recording one hundred people, but he was inundated with letters and e-mails from all over the nation, and those participating represented all ages, all walks of life, and all levels of education. “The Favorite Poem Project is partly to demonstrate that there is more circulation of poetry and more life of poetry than there might seem with the stereotype,” Pinsky explained in the Progressive. “I must say that the Favorite Poem readings, beyond my expectation, are very moving.”

With Maggie Dietz, Pinsky edited a representative volume of reader responses called Americans’ Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology. A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that “the selections are as diverse as the nation that chose them”. Americans’ Favorite Poems proved so popular that two subsequent collections have appeared: Poems to Read: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology and An Invitation to Poetry: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology. Booklist contributor Donna Seaman called Poems to Read “a graceful, sometimes jubilant, sometimes lyrical, sometimes brooding, but always welcoming and stirring collection”. Jersey Rain, published in 2000, was Pinsky’s first collection of completely new work since The Want Bone appeared a decade earlier. Reviewing the work in Library Journal, Christian Graham observed that Pinsky’s poems range from the mythic to the confessional. “Occasionally, his differing manners collide strangely,” Graham stated, “but Pinsky delivers, as ever, intelligent, pensive poetry of great beauty”. Pinsky’s latest book, Gulf Music, was published to wide acclaim in 2007. In a review for the New York TimesJoel Brouwer wrote that the collection was “not just an argument for but a demonstration of contemporary poetry’s necessity and vitality in our democracy”. Citing Pinsky’s influence as a critic and “American civic poet,” Brouwer continued: “Pinsky is our finest living specimen of this sadly rare breed, and the poems of “Gulf Music” are among the best examples we have of poetry’s ability to illuminate not only who we are as humans, but who we are—and can be—as a nation”.

Paul Breslin has commented that Pinsky “has emerged as the finest American poet-critic since Randall Jarrell”; Joel Brouwer that “[n]o other living American poet—no other living American, probably—has done so much to put poetry before the public eye”. For his own part, the last American poet laureate of the 20th century told the Progressive: “I think the rhythms in a lot of my writing are an attempt to create that feeling of a beautiful, gorgeous jazz solo that gives you more emotion and some more and coming around with some more, and it’s the same but it’s changed, and the rhythm is very powerful, but it is also lyricism. I think I’ve been trying to create something like that in my writing for a long time”.

On April 29, 1947, Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, where he was raised during the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. He served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1970 as a correspondent, and as managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam war, earning him a Bronze Star.

He began writing poetry in 1973, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Springs in 1975. His first book of poems, Dedications & Other Darkhorses, was published in 1977, followed by Lost in the Bonewheel Factory in 1979. During this time, he earned his MA and MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University and the University of California, Irvine, respectively.

Komunyakaa first received wide recognition following the 1984 publication of Copacetic, a collection of poems built from colloquial speech which demonstrated his incorporation of jazz influences. He followed the book with two others: I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Award; and Dien Cai Dau (1988), which won The Dark Room Poetry Prize and has been cited by poets such as William Matthews and Robert Hass as being among the best writing on the war in Vietnam.

Since then, he has published several books of poems, including The Chameleon Couch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011); Warhorses (2008); Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part 1Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975–1999 (2001); Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000); Thieves of Paradise (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977–1989 (1994), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Magic City (1992).

Komunyakaa’s prose is collected in Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (University of Michigan Press, 2000). He also co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology (with J. A. Sascha Feinstein, 1991), co-translated The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu (with Martha Collins, 1995), and served as guest editor for The Best of American Poetry 2003.

He has also written dramatic works, including Gilgamesh: A Verse Play (Wesleyan University Press, 2006), and Slip Knot, a libretto in collaboration with Composer T. J. Anderson and commissioned by Northwestern University.

About his work, the poet Toi Derricotte wrote for the Kenyon Review, “He takes on the most complex moral issues, the most harrowing ugly subjects of our American life. His voice, whether it embodies the specific experiences of a black man, a soldier in Vietnam, or a child in Bogalusa, Louisiana, is universal. It shows us in ever deeper ways what it is to be human”.

Komunyakaa is the recipient of the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award. His other honors include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999. He has taught at University of New Orleans, Indiana University, as a professor in the Council of Humanities and Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. He lives in New York City where he is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program.

“What characterizes Lee’s poetry is a certain humility…a willingness to let the sublime enter his field of concentration and take over, a devotion to language, a belief in its holiness.”                          —Gerald Stern

Li-Young Lee is the author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry, his most recent being Behind My Eyes. His earlier collections are: Book of My NightsRose, winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University; and The City in Which I Love You, the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection. His memoir, entitled The Winged Seed: A Remembrance, received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.
Li-Young Lee’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 1988 he received the Writer’s Award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.
Born in 1957 of Chinese parents in Jakarta, Indonesia, Lee learned early about loss and exile. His great grandfather was China’s first republican President; and his father, a deeply religious Christian, was physician to Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Lee’s parents escaped to Indonesia. In 1959, his father, after spending a year as a political prisoner in President Sukarno’s jails, fled Indonesia with his family to escape anti-Chinese sentiment. After a five-year trek through Hong Kong, Macau, and Japan, they settled in the United States in 1964.
Through the observation and translation of often unassuming and silent moments, the poetry of Li-Young Lee gives clear voice to the solemn and extraordinary beauty found within humanity. By employing hauntingly lyrical skill and astute poetic awareness, Lee allows silence, sound, form, and spirit to emerge brilliantly onto the page. His poetry reveals a dialogue between the eternal and the temporal, and accentuates the joys and sorrows of family, home, loss, exile, and love.

Naomi Shihab Nye, describes herself as a “wandering poet”. Nye was born to a Palestinian father and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-­American heritage, the cultural diversities of her varied homes, and her travels around the globe, Nye confirms the collective nature of the human condition in her writing.

Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and editor of more than 30 volumes. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Fuel, and her best-­selling poetry book You & Yours.

Naomi Shihab Nye’s other works include eight prize-­winning poetry anthologies for young adults. Her collection of poems Honeybee: Poems and Short Prose won the 2008 Arab American Book Award for Children/Young Adult Books.

In the fall of 2011, Ms. Nye published two new books, There Is No Long Distance, a collection of very short stories, and Transfer, a book of poems.

Called “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems is called The Trouble Ball (Norton, 2011). The Republic of Poetry, a collection published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other books of poems include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990). The University of Michigan released his essay collection, The Lover of a Subversive is Also a Subversive, in 2010. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship, the USA Simon Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. His poems have appeared in the The New YorkerHarper’s, The New York Times Book Review, and The Best American Poetry. His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have recently been published in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Chile. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.


“To put it simply, C.K. Williams is a wonderful poet, in the authentic American tradition of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, who tells us on every page what it means to be alive in our time.” —Stanley Kunitz


C. K. Williams is the author of ten books of poetry, the most recent of which is Wait, published in 2010 from FSG. Collected Poems, released in 2007, features the long arc of Williams’ career, from the morbid sanguinities of his apprentice work to the careful, moving, stanzaic focus evident in 21 new poems. The Singing won the National Book Award for 2003, and his previous book, Repair, was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. His collection Flesh and Blood received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Williams has also published a memoir, Misgivings: My Mother, My Father, Myself, in 2000, and has published translations of Sophocles’ Women of Trachis, Euripides’ Bacchae, and poems of Francis Ponge, among others. A book of essays, Poetry and Consciousness, appeared in 1998. A prose book entitled Williams, On Whitman, was released in 2010 from Princeton University Press. He was recently awarded the Twentieth Annual Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, an honor given to an American poet in recognition of extraordinary accomplishment. Among his honors are awards in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Voelcker Career Achievement Award, and fellowships from the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003, and teaches in the Writing Program at Princeton University. Williams started writing poetry when he was nineteen, shortly after taking his last required English class at the University of Pennsylvania. “Poetry didn’t find me, in the cradle or anywhere near it: I found it,” he recalled. “I realized at some point—very late, it’s always seemed—that I needed it, that it served a function for me—or someday would—however unclear that function may have been at first”. Williams found his voice as a poet in the mid-sixties when writing to a magazine editor about the violence directed against civil rights activists. The process of writing this letter opened up a new way of thinking for Williams—a paradigm for writing all of his poetry. The result was “A Day for Anne Frank,” a meditation that linked the civil rights movement with the Holocaust and became the opening poem of his first collection, Lies (1969). “After the Anne Frank poem…I seemed to be able to write poems I wanted to write, in a way that satisfied me, that made the struggle with the matter and form and surface of the poems bearable, and, more to the point, purposeful,” wrote Williams.

Williams is known for his daring formal style, marrying perceptive everyday observations to lines so long that they defy the conventions of lyric poetry. His poems often border on the prosaic, inspiring critics to compare them to Walt Whitman’s. Williams began his career as a strong anti-war writer, and in a recent profile in The New York Times stated that he still feels pulled in that direction: “It is always there, but it is more subliminal and is no longer on the surface. I do not want to be dogmatic”.

The Singing explores topics surrounding aging: the loss of loved ones, the love of grandchildren, and the struggle to retain memories of childhood even while dealing with the complexity of current events. Of the poems in this collection, John Ashberry wrote, “They are clear about complex things, which one sees as slightly magnified, like pebbles on the bed of a very clear stream”. Williams now realizes more than ever that “your truths will seek you, though you still / must construct and comprehend them”. He succeeds at this task with a flair that tempers the regret that is the recurring note in these poems, and transforms it into something like joy”. Today, Williams is considered one of the most esteemed living American poets.


About WAIT (2010)
Wait finds C. K. Williams by turns ruminative, stalked by “the conscience-beast, who harries me,” and “riven by idiot vigor, voracious as the youth I was for whom everything was going too slowly, too slowly”. Poems about animals and rural life are set hard by poems about shrapnel in Iraq and sudden desire on the Paris Métro; grateful invocations of Herbert and Hopkins give way to fierce negotiations with the shades of Coleridge, Dostoevsky, and Celan. What the poems share is their setting in the cool, spacious, spotlit, book-lined place that is Williams’s consciousness, a place whose workings he has rendered for fifty years with inimitable candor and style.

Collected Poems brings together in one volume C. K. Williams’ work of nearly forty years, enabling readers to follow the career of this great poet through its many phases and reinventions. Here are his confrontational early poems, which bristle with a young idealist’s righteous anger. Here are the roomy, rangy poems of Tar and With Ignorance, in which Williams married the long line of Whitman to a modern’s psychological self-scrutiny; the compact sonnets of Flesh and Blood; and the inward investigations of A Dream of Mind. Here are the incomparable poems from the prize winning books Repair and The Singing. Here, too, are new poems, in which Williams’s moral vigilance is brought to bear, again, on life during wartime. Collected Poems is the life’s work of a modern master—fiercely intelligent, arresting in its beauty, unforgettable in its echoes and reverberations.


I was walking home down a hill near our house
on a balmy afternoon under the blossoms
Of the pear trees that go flamboyantly mad here
every spring with their burgeoning forth

When a young man turned in from a corner singing no it was more of a cadenced shouting
Most of which I couldn’t catch I thought because
the young man was black speaking black

It didn’t matter I could tell he was making his song up which pleased me he was nice-looking
Husky dressed in some style of big pants obviously
full of himself hence his lyrical flowing over

We went along in the same direction then he noticed me there almost beside him and “Big”
He shouted-sang “Big” and I thought how droll
to have my height incorporated in his song

So I smiled but the face of the young man showed nothing he looked in fact pointedly away
And his song changed “I’m not a nice person”
he chanted “I’m not I’m not a nice person”

No menace was meant I gathered no particular threat but he did want to be certain I knew
That if my smile implied I conceived of anything like concord between us I should forget it

That’s all nothing else happened his song became
indecipherable to me again he arrived
Where he was going a house where a girl in braids
waited for him on the porch that was all

No one saw no one heard all the unasked and
unanswered questions were left where they were
It occurred to me to sing back “I’m not a nice
person either” but I couldn’t come up with a tune

Besides I wouldn’t have meant it nor he have believed it both of us knew just where we were
In the duet we composed the equation we made
the conventions to which we were condemned

Sometimes it feels even when no one is there that
someone something is watching and listening
Someone to rectify redo remake this time again though no one saw nor heard no one was there

Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. His eight books of poems include School of the ArtsSource, and My Alexandria. He has also published four volumes of nonfiction prose: Still Life with Oysters and LemonHeaven’s CoastFirebird, and Dog Years, which was a New York Times bestseller in 2007. The Art of Description, a handbook for writers, appeared in 2011.

Doty’s poems have appeared in many magazines including The Atlantic MonthlyThe London Review of BooksPloughsharesPoetry, and The New Yorker. Widely anthologized, his poems appear in The Norton Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry and many other collections.

Doty’s work has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, two Lambda Literary Awards and the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. He is the only American poet to have received the T.S. Eliot Prize in the U.K., and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill and Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Doty lives in New York City and on the east end of Long Island. He is Professor/Writer in Residence at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Two new books are forthcoming, both from W.W. Norton: What Is the Grass, a prose meditation on Walt Whitman and the ecstatic, and Deep Lane, a new volume of poems.

2009 - X.J. Kennedy

2008 - Alicia Ostriker

2007 - David Wagoner

Molly Peacock is a poet, biographer, essayist, and short fiction writer whose multi-genre literary life has taken her from New York City to Toronto, from poetry to prose, from words to words-and-pictures, and from lyric self-examination to curiosity about the lives of others. She is the author of the best-selling biography The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 . Beginning her literary life as a poet, she has published six books of poetry, including The Second Blush and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems.

A dynamic speaker, she has spread the word about late-life creativity, poetry, and the artist’s life from The Art Gallery of Ontario to the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, from NPR to the CBC. She is a subject of a documentary film by Renee McCormick, A Life Outside Convention.

Molly is from a blue-collar and farming family with roots both in Canada and the United States. She was born in Buffalo, New York, received a B.A. magna cum laude from Harpur College (Binghamton University) and an M.A. with honors from The Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University. A dual American-Canadian citizen, she now lives with her husband, James Joyce scholar Michael Groden, in Toronto, though she maintains contact with her former home by conducting a seminar at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York City every winter.

Among her honors are awards from The Leon Levy Center for Biography (City University of New York Graduate Center), the Canada Council for the Arts, the Danforth Foundation, Ingram Merrill Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and New York State Council on the Arts. Widely anthologized, her poems appear in The Oxford Book of American Poetry, The Best of the Best American Poetry, and A Formal Feeling Comes as well as in leading literary journals such as The New Yorker, Poetry, The Literary Review of Canada, The New Criterion, Canadian Notes and Queries, Contemporary Verse 2, The Southwest Review, and The Yale Review. Her essay “Passion Flowers in Winter”, which was selected by David Foster Wallace for inclusion in The Best American Essays 2007, grew into The Paper Garden, a #1 Bestseller in Canada, a New York Times reviewed biography in the United States, and an Economist Book of the Year in the UK and Ireland. It was published as well in Australia and New Zealand.

Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her sister spent their summers with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she graduated with honors from Fisk University, her grandfather’s alma mater, in 1968; after graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the “Princess of Black Poetry”, and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a “National Treasure” and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey’s twenty-five “Living Legends”.

Giovanni’s honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor’s Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by The History Makers. She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities. A scientist who admires her work even named a new species of bat he discovered for her! Black Enterprise named her a Women of Power Legacy Award winner for work that expands opportunities for other women of color.

The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Nikki Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

2004 - Marvin Bell

2003 - Samuel Menashe

Gary Soto, born April 12, 1952, was raised in Fresno, California. He is the author of eleven poetry collections for adults, most notably New and Selected Poems, a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly, Poetry International, and Poetry, which has honored him not only with the Bess Hokin Prize and the Levinson Award, but also by featuring him in the interview series Poets in Person. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. For ITVS, he produced the film “The Pool Party”, which received the 1993 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Film Excellence. In 1997, because of his advocacy for reading, he was featured as NBC’s Person-of-the-Week. In 1999, he received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association, and the PEN Center West Book Award for Petty Crimes.

Gary admires people who have done great service for others. High on his list are Jose Padilla of California Rural Legal Assistance, Arturo Rodriguez of the United Farm Workers, Dr. Marc Lasher of the Fresno Free Clinic, and Nancy Mellor of the Coalinga Huron Avenal House. As for his own service commitment, Gary has taught English to Spanish speakers as a volunteer. In his free time he likes to play tennis, tend his garden, attend musical concerts, and travel. Recently he has discovered that he enjoys baking cookies. He divides his time between Berkeley, California and his hometown of Fresno.

2001 - Billy Collins

Marge Piercy was born March 31, 1936. Piercy recalls having a reasonably happy early childhood. However, halfway through grade school she almost died from the German measles and then caught rheumatic fever. She went from a pretty and healthy child into a skeletal creature with blue skin given to fainting. In the misery of sickness, she took refuge in books. She lavished love on her cats. She went to public grade school and high school in Detroit. At seventeen, after winning a scholarship to the University of Michigan which paid her tuition, Piercy was the first person in her family to go to college. Piercy remarks that in some ways college was easy for her. She was good at taking exams and strongly motivated to learn. However other aspects of college life were painful.

She did not fit any image of what women were supposed to be like. The Freudianism that permeated educated values in the fifties labeled her aberrant for her sexuality and ambitions. However, winning various Hopwood awards (the playwright Avery Hopwood, writer of sex farces, had left his fortune to the University of Michigan to be used to encourage good and original student writing) meant that during her senior year Piercy didn’t have to work to support herself. A Hopwood also allowed her to go to France after graduation. Her schooling finished with a M.A. from Northwestern where she had a fellowship.

Piercy’s poetry has changed since moving to the Cape. She now has a sense of herself as part of the landscape and part of the web of living beings. The Cape is her home although she travels a great deal here and abroad, giving readings, workshops, and lectures.

1999 - Yevgeny Yevtushenko

1998 - Mark Rudman

1997 - Galway Kinnell

1996 - Diane Wakoski

Joseph Bruchac lives in the Adirondack mountain foothills town of Greenfield Center, New York, in the same house where his maternal grandparents raised him. Much of his writing draws on that land and his Abenaki ancestry. Although his American Indian heritage is only one part of an ethnic background that includes Slovak and English blood, those Native roots are the ones by which he has been most nourished. He, his younger sister Margaret, and his two grown sons, James and Jesse, continue to work extensively in projects involving the preservation of Abenaki culture, language, and traditional Native skills—including performing traditional and contemporary Abenaki music with the Dawnland Singers.

He holds a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. in Literature and Creative Writing from Syracuse, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Union Institute of Ohio. His work as an educator includes eight years of directing a college program for Skidmore College inside a maximum security prison. With his late wife, Carol, he founded the Greenfield Review Literary Center and The Greenfield Review Press. He has edited a number of highly praised anthologies of contemporary poetry and fiction, including Songs from this Earth on Turtle’s BackBreaking Silence (winner of an American Book Award) and Returning the Gift. His poems, articles, and stories have appeared in over 500 publications, from American Poetry ReviewCricket and Aboriginal Voices, to National GeographicParabola, and Smithsonian Magazine. He has authored more than 120 books for adults and children.

His awards include American Book Award for Breaking Silence, Horn Book honor for The Boy Who Lived with the Bears, Scientific American Children’s Book Award for The Story of the Milky Way, and the Cherokee Nation Prose Award.

Robert Bly was born in western Minnesota in 1926 to parents of Norwegian stock. Beginning in 1954, he took two years at the University of Iowa at the Writers Workshop along with W. D. Snodgrass, Donald Justice, and others.

In 1956 he received a Fulbright grant to travel to Norway and translate Norwegian poetry into English. Recent books of poetry include What Have I Ever Lost by Dying? Collected Prose Poems and Meditations on the Insatiable Soul, both published by Harper Collins. His second large prose book, The Sibling Society, published by Addison-Wesley in hardcover and Vintage in paperback, is the subject of nation-wide discussion.

His collection, Morning Poems (Harper Collins), named for William Stafford’s practice of writing a poem each morning, revisits the western Minnesota farm country of Bly’s boyhood with marvelous wit and warmth. He has recently published The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine (Henry Holt) in collaboration with Marion Woodman. His new selected poems, Eating the Honey of Words, has recently appeared from Harper Flamingo, as well as his translations of Ghalib, The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib (with Sunil Dutta) from Ecco Press. He has also edited the prestigious Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribners).

1993 - Adrienne Rich

Sharon Olds was born in San Francisco and educated at Stanford University and Columbia University. Her first book, Satan Says (1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. Her second, The Dead and the Living, was both the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983 and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Father was short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize in England, and The Unswept Room was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Many of her other awards include a Pulitzer Prize for her poem Stag’s Leap, a James Laughlin Award, a National Book Critic’s Circle Award for Poetry for her poem The Dead and the Living, and a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts.

Olds teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and helped to found the NYU workshop program for residents of Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, and for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. She lives in New Hampshire and in New York City.

1991 - Allen Ginsberg

1990 - William Stafford

1989 - Stanley Kunitz

June Jordan (1936 – 2002) was born in Harlem in 1936, Jordan was the child of West Indian immigrant parents, who raised her in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where she began writing poetry at the age of seven. In her teens, she attended the Northfield School for Girls in Massachusetts, and in 1953 enrolled at Barnard College, where she would earn her B.A.

Jordan was active in the civil rights, feminist, antiwar, and gay and lesbian rights movements, even as she became known as a writer. In 1967, after running poetry workshops for children in Harlem, Jordan began her teaching career at the City College of New York. She taught at Yale University and Sarah Lawrence College, and became a professor of English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she directed The Poetry Center. In 1988, she was appointed professor of African-American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she founded the influential poetry program Poetry For the People.

Jordan earned numerous honors and awards, including a 1969–1970 Rockefeller grant for creative writing, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writers Award (1995–1998), the Ground Breakers-Dream Makers Award from The Woman’s Foundation (1994), the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lectureship from the University of California at Berkeley, the PEN Center USA West Freedom to Write Award (1991), and a congressional citation for her outstanding contributions to literature, the progressive movement, and the civil rights movement.

Jordan was also the author of more than twenty-five major works of poetry, fiction and essays, as well as numerous children’s books, amongst other works. Her journalism was published widely in magazines and newspapers around the world, and she was a regular columnist for The Progressive.

1987 - David Ignatow

Galway Kinnell was born in Providence, Rhode Island and he was raised in Pawtucket. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and received a Masters degree from University of Rochester. He was the director of the adult education program at the University of Chicago’s Downtown Center, a teacher and journalist in Iran, and a field worker for the Congress of Racial Equality in Louisiana, and subsequently taught poetry at colleges in this country and abroad.

Kinnell is also the author of ten books of poetry, including The Book of Nightmares, When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone, Imperfect Thirst, and most recently A New Selected Poems and Strong is Your Hold. He also published a novel, Black Light; a selection of interviews, Walking Down the Stairs; and a book for children, as well as translations of works by Yves Bonnefoy, Yvan Goll, Francois Villon, and Rainer Maria Rilke.

A former MacArthur Fellow and State Poet of Vermont, he has been a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. In 1982, his selected poems won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; in 2002, he was awarded the Frost Medal by the Poetry Society of America. He taught for many years at New York University, where he was Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing. He lives in northern Vermont.

1985 - W. D. Snodgrass

1984 - John Ciardi

1983 - Louis Simpson

1982 - Allen Planz

1981 - William Heyen

Writers in residence

George Wallace is Writer in Residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace (2011–present), first poet laureate of Suffolk County NY, former laureate of the International Beat Poetry Festival, and author of 38 chapbooks of poetry. An adjunct professor with the English Department at Pace University in Manhattan and at Westchester Community College, Wallace is editor of Poetrybay, Poetryvlog, Walt’s Corner, and co-editor of Great Weather For Media and Long Island Quarterly.

He has taught writing workshops widely in the US and in Europe, including west coast weekend retreats at Paso Robles and Willow Creek; workshops in Oklahoma, North Carolina, Florida, and the New York metropolitan area; Cornwall, Cumbria, East Anglia, and at Maddy Prior’s Stone Barn in Bewcastle; and at a week-long workshop on the island of Skiathos, Greece.

Wallace has performed at the Ledbury Festival, Woody Guthrie Festival, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, and Lyric Recovery at Carnegie Hall. He has collaborated with French Playwrights at the Avignon Festival, and appeared on stage with numerous figures in popular music. As visiting writer at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, he recently researched major themes in classic literature and their application to contemporary poetics.

His lecture and reading schedule has brought him to many UK and US locations, including: the Dylan Thomas Centre, Robert Burns Centre, Brantwood and Swarthmoor Hall, the Pollock-Krasner House, Gordon Parks Museum, Detroit Labor Conference, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, John Steinbeck Center, and the William Carlos Williams Library. He has appeared widely in Southern Europe, and is recipient of such international awards as the Naim Fresheri Prize (Mac), Corona d’Oro (Alb), Orpheus Prize (Bul), Centro Studii Archivio d’Occidente Award (It), and Alexander Medal (UNESCO-Gr).

A graduate of Syracuse University where he studied poetry with WD Snodgrass and Donald Justice, Wallace obtained his MFA in 2008 at Pacific University, Oregon, working with Marvin Bell, David St John, Joe Millar, Ellen Bass, and Dorianne Laux.

His publications include Resistance is a Blue Guitar (Blue Light Press), Simple Blues With A Few Intangibles (Foothills Publications), Belt Buckles And Bibles (NightBallet Press), Incident on the Orient Express (Nirala Press), Poppin’ Johnny (Three Rooms Press), Burn My Heart in Wet Sand (Leicester), Sulfer of Troy, and Swimming Through Water (La Finestra Editrice).

As Writer In Residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, Wallace has broadened the base of his poetry from his roots in French Surrealism and Beat-era bop prosody to explore the visionary and ecstatic tradition of 19th century American Transcendentalism, as well as the Romantic-era celebration of the voice of the “common man”.

An avid Whitman enthusiast, he is a major interpreter of Long Island literature and local history, as well as European Surrealism, New York School and Beat writing; and has dialogued with many of the major figures in 20th century poetry and the popular arts, including most of the poets in residence at the Whitman Birthplace.

As Writer in Residence, Wallace founded the Walking With Whitman: Poetry in Performance, which has grown to become WWBA’s Signature Poetry Performance Series. The series features performances and presentations by the most intriguing figures in contemporary literature and the arts on the national scene, paired with respected voices on the regional scene.

Wallace, who serves as host and MC, is quintessential in recruiting a diverse roster of performers to create a dynamic program. In year four, Wallace brought music into the proceedings. Now in its fifth season, Wallace continues to build on the already successful program by adding an open mic portion to the proceedings, so that regional poets may share their voice with the audience.

“We’ve hosted international performers from England, Africa, Scotland and Greece; nationally known figures in poetry from the four corners of America; and regional poets from the tri-state area to Long Island’s own backyards,” Wallace says. “Styles have varied widely, but through the entire series, what has remained consistent is the display of exceptionally high quality of wordcraft, and enthusiastic devotion to audience engagement.”

George Wallace reads Walt Whitman at the Church of Beethoven in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Walt Whitman’s “Manahatta” read by WWBA’s Writer in Residence, George Wallace. Neon animation by Jack Feldstein.

George Wallace’s Weblog From June 10, 2010 – August 11, 2012

Annabelle Moseley is the author of the full-length poetry collection, The Clock of the Long Now, published in 2012 by David Robert Books and honored as one of four books featured on the 2012 First Books Panel at the West Chester Poetry Conference. Moseley has seven published chapbooks of poetry, including her newest, The Divine Tour (Finishing Line Press, 2012), The Fish Has Swallowed Earth (Aldrich Publishing, 2012), A Field Guide to the Muses (Finishing Line Press, 2009), a young adult fantasy novel, and a collection of children’s poetry. The first Walt Whitman Birthplace Writer-in-Residence, 2009–2010, Moseley is also founder and editor of String Poet, an online literary journal of poetry and the arts, and the host of The New York Times-featured String Poet Studio Series at the Long Island Violin Shop. She is founder of the national String Poet Prize. Moseley is a Lecturer at St. Joseph’s College and teaches poetry workshops at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and other cultural centers in the New York / Long Island area. A 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee, Moseley has published hundreds of poems internationally in such journals as Oprah.com, The Texas ReviewThe Seventh Quarry (Wales)The LyricMezzo Cammin, and Umbrella, among others. Her first three chapbooks of poetry, published from 2005 to 2008 include: The Moon is a Lemon (Birnham Wood), Artifacts of Sound (Street Press), and Still Life (Street Press). Annabelle Moseley’s chapbook, First and Last Things, is a shared collection with the Welsh poet J. C. Evans, published jointly in New York and Wales by Cross-Cultural Communications. Moseley won first place in the 2008 Writer’s Digest Poetry Contest and a 2008 Amy Award from Poets & Writers. In April 2011, her poem “Breakable,” was chosen by O, The Oprah Magazine as one of the twelve poems selected from thousands to be featured on Oprah.com.

Annabelle Moseley was born on the North Shore of Long Island, where she currently resides with her husband. The beauty of Whitman’s Paumanok has influenced her writing, and much of her work is inspired by nature and human relationships. Among the themes of her writing is the tension between beauty and loss. She became an internationally published poet while still an undergraduate at Fairfield University in Connecticut. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Upon leaving Fairfield University she took with her all three of the available prizes in poetry. The next year she received a first place Poetry Center Prize in Poetry from the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and an MA in Religious Studies, with a concentration and thesis on the medieval pilgrimage. She served for three years (2005–2008) as Poet-in-Residence at The Stevenson Academy of Fine Arts in Oyster Bay, New York.