2015 Featured Presenters
Karen Russell’s novel, Swamplandia!, was chosen by The New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2011,” was long-listed for The Orange Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of the celebrated short-story collections, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the MacArthur Foundation, she has been featured in the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list, was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, and received the “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation.
(Photo credit: Michael Lionstar)
Scroll over presenter photos for biographies.
Charles Baxter is the author of, most recently, There’s Something I Want You to Do: Stories. His third novel, The Feast of Love, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2000. He has received the Award of Merit in the Short Story and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Rea Award in the Short Story in 2012. He is currently the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota.
Kevin Beacham is a respected hip-hop educator, writer, and DJ. He has worked at the Minneapolis-based Rhymesayers Entertainment/Fifth Element for over a decade, and has been active as a radio show host since 1995, starting on WNUR in Chicago. He has contributed countless writings to magazines and websites, both locally and internationally, and is currently at work on a series of books, the first of which is titled Microphone Mathematics, a detailed and critical look at the evolution of rhyme-writing throughout hip-hop’s history.
Jill Bialosky’s collections of poems are Subterranean and The End of Desire. Also a memoirist, she is author of the novels House Under Snow and The Life Room and coeditor of the anthology Wanting A Child. Her poems and essays appear in the New Yorker, O magazine, Paris Review, the Nation, the New Republic, Kenyon Review, and American Poetry Review. She has received a number of awards including the Elliot Coleman Award in Poetry and works as an editor at W.W. Norton & Company.
T. Coraghessan Boyle
T.C. Boyle is the author of twenty-four books of fiction, including After the Plague, Drop City, San Miguel, and T.C. Boyle Stories II. He has been a member of the English Department at the University of Southern California since 1978. His stories have appeared in most of the major American magazines, including the New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, the Atlantic, Playboy, Paris Review, and GQ.
Jeffrey Brown is Chief Correspondent for Arts, Culture, and Society for PBS NewsHour. As arts correspondent, he has profiled many of the world's leading writers and artists. As senior producer for national affairs for more than a decade, he helped shape the program's coverage of a range of areas, including social policy, culture, and the arts. Additionally, he created "Art Beat,” the NewsHour's online arts and culture blog. His work has garnered an Emmy and five Cine Golden Eagle Awards. His book of poems, The News, is forthcoming in 2015.
Ron Carlson is the author of five story collections and six novels, including Return to Oakpine and The Signal. His fiction has appeared in Harper’s, the New Yorker, Playboy, GQ, Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. His book of poems, Room Service: Poems, Meditations, Outcries, & Remarks, was published in 2012. His book on writing, Ron Carlson Writes a Story, is taught widely. He is the director of the writing program at the University of California at Irvine.
Dessa is a rapper, writer, and member of the Doomtree collective. Her most recent album, Parts of Speech, debuted at #76 on the Billboard charts. Literary wit and a magnetic live show have earned praise from critics throughout the U.S. and in Europe. She has written two literary collections: Spiral Bound is primarily creative nonfiction, and A Pound of Steam is a poetry chapbook. Her essays have appeared in The Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, and on MPR.
(Photo credit: Hannah Hofmann)
Stuart Dybek’s two new collections of fiction Ecstatic Cahoots and Paper Lantern were published in 2014. His previous fiction includes Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, The Coast of Chicago, and I Sailed with Magellan. He has also published two volumes of poetry, Brass Knuckles and Streets in Their Own Ink. Dybek is the recipient of many literary awards including a MacArthur Fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Award, a Lannan Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award, two fellowships from the NEA, and four O’Henry Prizes. His work is widely anthologized, and has appeared in Best American Poetry and Best American Fiction. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University.
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Louise Erdrich is the author of The Round House, winner of the 2012 National Book Award. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984, and her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. She has published volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. She is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and owns Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis.
Bernardine Evaristo is an award-winning British author of Afro-diasporic fictions and verse fiction. Her latest novel is Mr Loverman,and her verse novels include the semi-autobiographical Lara and The Emperor’s Babe. Two of her seven books have recently been adapted into BBC Radio 4 dramas. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, and she was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2009. http://www.bevaristo.com
Joshua Ferris is the author of Then We Came to the End, a finalist for the National Book Award, longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award; The Unnamed; and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, which has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He is the winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers Award, and has been named to the New Yorker's "20 Under 40" list of fiction writers worth watching. His short fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Best New American Voices, The Guardian, and Best American Short Stories, among others. Ferris is a graduate of the University of Iowa and the University of California, Irvine.
(Photo credit: Nina Subin)
Carolyn Forché’s books of poetry include Blue Hour; The Angel of History, which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and The Country Between Us. She is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness and the coeditor of Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English 1500-2001. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Lannan foundations and the NEA. She is the director of the Lannan Center for Poetry and Poetics and holds the Lannan Chair in Poetry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
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Roxane Gay is the author of three books: Ayiti, An Untamed State, and Bad Feminist. She has had work in Best American Short Stories, Oxford American, Virginia Quarterly Review, and New York Times Book Review. She is the coeditor of PANK and teaches at Purdue University.
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Tony Hoagland’s books of poetry include Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, What Narcissism Means to Me, Donkey Gospel, Sweet Ruin, and Rain, as well as acollection of essays about poetry, Real Sofistakashun. His awards include the O.B. Hardison Prize for Poetry and Teaching from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the 2008 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers, as well as the Poetry Foundation’s 2005 Mark Twain Award. He currently teaches at the University of Houston and Warren Wilson College MFA program.
Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw writer and activist, is the author of the novel Mean Spirit, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her collection of poetry The Book of Medicines was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her nonfiction includes The Woman Who Watches Over the World and Dwellings. Among her honors are Lannan, NEA, and Guggenheim fellowships. She has also been inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame. A Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado, she is now the Writer-in-Residence for The Chickasaw Nation.
Marie Howe was named State Poet of New York in 2012. Her newest book of poems is The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. She is also the author of the collections What the Living Do and The Good Thief, winner of the 1988 National Poetry Series, and she has received grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Bunting Institute. She is also the co-editor of the anthology: In the Company of my Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and NYU.
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Tyehimba Jess is the author of leadbelly, a debut collection chosen for the National Poetry Series. A Cave Canem fellow, he has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lannan Foundation, and Illinois Arts Council. He has published African American Pride: Celebrating our Achievements, Contributions and Legacy, a book of nonfiction, and he is an assistant professor of English at CUNY College of Staten Island.
Mohja Kahf’s first book of poetry is E-mails from Scheherazad. She is also the author of a novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, and a book of literary scholarship, Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque.She teaches at University of Arkansas in the Program in Comparative Literature and the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies.
John Keene is author of Seismosis, a poetry collection; Annotations, a novel; and a forthcoming collection of short fiction entitled Counternarratives. A Cave Canem fellow and a longtime member of the Dark Room Collective, he has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New York Times Foundation, Yaddo, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Pan-African Literary Forum. He is an associate professor of English and African American/African Studies at Rutgers University-Newark.
Ted Kooser is a two-time U.S. Poet Laureate, a Pulitzer Prize winner, professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the author of eleven full-length collections of poetry, including Delights and Shadows, and Splitting an Order. As Poet Laureate he started the American Life in Poetry project, and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, and the Nation. He has received two NEA fellowships in poetry, the Stanley Kunitz Prize, and a Merit Award from the Nebraska Arts Council.
Greil Marcus is the author of Mystery Train, Lipstick Traces, The Dustbin of History, The Old, Weird America, Double Trouble, The Shape of Things to Come, Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus, The Doors, and, most recently, The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs. With Sean Wilentz he is the editor of The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad, and with Werner Sollors of A New Literary History of America. In recent years he has taught at Berkeley and the New School in New York. His column Real Life Rock Top 10 appears monthly in the Believer.
Anthony Marra’s first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, was named one of the ten best books of 2013 by The Washington Post, New York magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal. It received the National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, the California Book Award, and was long-listed for the National Book Award. He currently teaches at Stanford University.
Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden, winner of the New York / New England Award, and Mixology, which was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. His most recent collection of poems, The Big Smoke, was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Prize and was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and the 2013 National Book Award. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lannan Foundation, and he teaches creative writing and literature at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Alice McDermott is the author of several novels, including After This; Child of My Heart; Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award; and At Weddings and Wakes. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.
(Photo credit: Jamie Schoenberger)
Pablo Medina is the author of fourteen books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation. His latest novel is Cubop City Blues. His latest poetry collection is Calle Habana. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.
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Ana Menéndez is the author of four books of fiction: In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, Loving Che, The Last War, and Adios, Happy Homeland! For 18 years, Ana worked as a journalist in the United States and abroad, lastly as a prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Bomb Magazine, Poets & Writers, and Gourmet Magazine and has been included in several anthologies, including Cubanisimo! and American Food Writing. She has lived in New Delhi, Istanbul, Cairo, Amsterdam, and Maastricht, where she recently developed a Creative Writing Minor for Maastricht University. She now lives in Surfside, Florida.
(Photo credit: Peter Polak)
Dinaw Mengestu is the author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and How to Read the Air. He was named a "20 Under 40" writer by the New Yorker. Other honors include the National Book Award Foundation's "5 Under 35" Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a GuardianFirst Book Award, and France’s Prix du Premier Roman Etranger. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2007, one of Amazon.com’s Top Ten Novels of the Year, and one of Lire Magazine’s Twenty Best Novels of the Year. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1978, Mengestu moved to the United States in 1980. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Columbia University.
(Photo credit: Mathieau Zazzo)
Dunya Mikhail was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing in 2001. A former journalist for the Baghdad Observer, she fled to the United States in the late 1990s. Her books in English include The War Works Hard, shortlisted for the Griffin Prize, Diary of A Wave Outside the Sea, which won the 2010 Arab American Book Award for poetry, and The Iraqi Nights, published in 2014. She teaches Arabic at Oakland University.
(Photo credit: Robert Akraw)
Farzaneh Milani is Raymond J. Nelson Professor and Chair of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia. She is a poet and co-translated A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems of Simin Behbahani. Her books of scholarship include Words, Not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and the Freedom of Movement and Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers, and she recently completed An Iranian Icarus: The Life and Poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad.
Thylias Moss has published eight collections of poetry, including Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky, selected for the National Poetry Series. Her most recent volume is Tokyo Butter. She is the author of a memoir, Tale of a Sky-Blue Dress, two plays, and several books for children. Her honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, the Witter Bynner Prize, a Dewar’s Profiles Performance Award, and fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation. She is a professor of English and Art & Design at the University of Michigan.
Alicia Ostriker’s thirteenth poetry collection, The Book of Seventy, received the 2009 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry; The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems 1979-2011 received a Paterson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. She has also received honors from the Poetry Society of America, the San Francisco Poetry Center, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, and has twice been a National Book Award finalist. As a critic, she has published several books on poetry and on the Bible. She is Professor Emerita of Rutgers University and teaches at Drew University.
(Photo credit: J.P. Ostriker)
P.O.S. built his reputation as a hip-hop innovator with a punk rock past and expressive, honest content. He is a founding member of the Doomtree collective and is currently signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment. He creates his own self-contained microcosm of characters and inside jokes, and he doesn’t hesitate to call out the compounding absurdities of our era. He is also active in side projects such as indie super-group Gayngs, Marijuana Deathsquads, and the Four Fists, a band named after and inspired by the fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
(Photo credit: Kelly Loverud)
Eric Pankey is the author of ten collections of poems and recipient of the Walt Whitman Award and the New Measure Prize. He has published poetry, essays, and reviews in the Iowa Review, the New Yorker, and the Kenyon Review. He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Brown Foundation. He currently serves as professor of English and the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University.
Francine Prose is the author of stories, reviews, essays, and numerous award-winning works including the novels A Changed Man; Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award; and Lovers at the Chameleon Club;and the nonfiction books Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife and Reading Like A Writer. The recipient of Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, two NEA grants, and a PEN translation prize, she has taught at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and currently teaches at Bard College. In 2009, she was elected to the Academy of Arts & Letters.
(Photo credit: Marion Ettlinger)
Atsuro Riley is the author of Romey’s Order, recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Believer Poetry Award, and a Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress. Additional honors include a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation.
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Vijay Seshadri is the author of three collections of poems: 3 Sections, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize; The Long Meadow, winner of the 2003 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and Wild Kingdom. His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in the American Scholar, the Nation, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times Book Review. He is currently the Myers Professor of Writing at Sarah Lawrence College.
Bob Shacochis’s first collection of stories, Easy in the Islands, won the National Book Award for First Fiction, and his second collection, The Next New World, was awarded the Prix de Rome from the Academy of Arts and Letters. His novel, Swimming in the Volcano, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul was finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He is a contributing editor for Outside, and his op-eds on the U.S. military, Haiti, and Florida politics have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
(Photo credit: Mace Flagger)
Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of three memoirs: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life; Devotion; and Slow Motion; and five novels: Black & White, Family History, Picturing the Wreck, Fugitive Blue, and Playing with Fire. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines and has been widely anthologized. She has taught at Columbia, NYU, the New School, and Wesleyan. She is cofounder of the Sirenland Writers Conference and is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure.
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Susan Straight has published eight novels and two books for children. Her new novel Between Heaven and Here is the final book in her Rio Seco trilogy. Take One Candle Light a Room wasnamed one of the best books of 2010 by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and A Million Nightingales was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006. Highwire Moon was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UC Riverside.
Arthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry, including Compass Rose, The Ginkgo Light, Quipu, The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998, and Archipelago. Also a translator and editor, he has published The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese and edited Chinese Writers on Writing. His honors include the Jackson Poetry Prize, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a Lannan Literary Award, and an American Book Award, as well as a number of fellowships. A professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts, he is also a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
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Mary Szybist is the author of two collections of poetry: Incarnadine, winner of the 2013 National Book Award, and Granted, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writing Award, and a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress. She teaches at Lewis & Clark College and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.
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Michael Thomas is the author of Man Gone Down, winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, A Public Space, and the anthology The Book of Dads. He teaches at Hunter College.
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Connie Wanek’s first book of poems, Bonfire, won the New Rivers Press New Voices award. On Speaking Terms, her third book, was released in 2010. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, the Atlantic, and Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2006, U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser named her a Witter Bynner Fellow of the Library of Congress. She also served as an editor on the comprehensive anthology, To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present, which has won several awards. Her latest effort, published in 2014, is a book of prose called Summer Cars.
Afaa Michael Weaver
Afaa Michael Weaver's twelfth collection of poetry, The Government of Nature, won the 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award. His other honors include three Pushcart prizes, Fulbright and Pew fellowships, the May Sarton Award, and an NEA grant given while he was a factory worker in Baltimore. In playwriting he was awarded the PDI award from ETA Creative Arts Foundation. His new collection is City of Eternal Spring, and he teaches at Simmons College and in the Drew University MFA program.
Kevin Young’s books of poetry include The Book of Hours; Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels; Dear Darkness: Poems; For the Confederate Dead; and Jelly Roll: A Blues. He is also the editor of anthologies, including The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 and The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing. His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the NEA. He is the Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing and curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.
(Photo credit: Todd Martens)
AWP Award Series Readers
Scroll over presenter photos for biographies.
Matthew Burriesci is the author of Dead White Guys: A Father, His Daughter, and the Great Books of the Western World, and Nonprofit, which won the 2013 AWP Award Series for the Novel. From 1999-2011, he served in various capacities at AWP, including Acting Executive Director. He was instrumental in the development of the AWP Conference, which is now the largest literary conference in North America. He also served as Executive Director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, which bestows the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the United States.
Sarah Gorham is the author of four collections of poetry: Bad Daughter, The Cure, The Tension Zone, and Don’t Go Back to Sleep. In 2013, she won the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction for her collection of essays, Study in Perfect. She has received fellowships from the NEA; the Kentucky, Connecticut, and Delaware Arts Councils; the Kentucky Foundation for Women; Yaddo; and the MacDowell Colony, among others. In March of 1994, Gorham founded Sarabande Books, Inc., dedicated to the publication of poetry, short fiction, and the essay. The press won AWP’s inaugural Small Press Publisher Award in 2013. Gorham serves as president and editor-in-chief.
Kirsten Kaschock is the author of three books of poetry: Unfathoms, A Beautiful Name for a Girl, and The Dottery, winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry from AWP. Her debut novel, Sleight, a work of speculative fiction, was published by Coffee House Press. Her chapbook, WindowBoxing, is out from Bloof Books. She earned a PhD in English from the University of Georgia and a PhD in Dance from Temple University. She is the editor-in-chief of thINKing DANCE (an online consortium of Philadelphia dance writers) and is on faculty at Drexel University.
Carla Panciera is the author of the short story collection, Bewildered, winner of the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. She is also the author of the books of poetry, One of the Cimalores, and No Day, No Dusk, No Love. Panciera received the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and was the James Kilgore Tuition Scholar in nonfiction at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She holds an undergraduate degree in English from the University of New Hampshire and a graduate degree in poetry from Boston University. A high school English teacher, she lives with her husband and three daughters in Rowley, MA.