2019 Featured Presenters
Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of
The Underground Railroad (an Oprah’s Book Club selection and winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize),
The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist,
John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and the collection of essays,
The Colossus of New York. Whitehead has received a MacArthur Fellowship, A Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
for John Henry Days. He has taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, New York University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University
of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming. He lives in New York City.
(Photo credit: Madeline Whitehead)
Scroll over presenter photos for biographies.
Kaveh Akbar is the author of the book Calling a Wolf a Wolf and the chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic. His poems appear in the New Yorker, Poetry, the New Republic, Best American Poetry, the New York Times, and elsewhere. The recipient of the Levis Reading Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, Akbar is the founding editor of Divedapper. Born in Tehran, Iran, he teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph College and Warren Wilson College.
(Photo Credit: B.A. Van Sise)
Simon Armitage is the current Professor of Poetry at both Oxford University and the University of Sheffield. His published works include The Unaccompanied and Paper Aeroplane: Poems 1989–2014, along with his translations of the poems The Odyssey, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and The Death of King Arthur.
Cameron Awkward-Rich, a poet and critic, is the author of Sympathetic Little Monster and Dispatch, winner of the 2018 Lexi Rudnitsky Editor's Choice Award. His poetry has appeared in Narrative, the Baffler, American Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere, and he has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Watering Hole, and Duke University. He holds a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and is an Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Samiya Bashir is the author of three books of poetry: Field Theories (winner of the Oregon Book Award), Gospel, and Where the Apple Falls. Sometimes she makes poems of dirt. Sometimes zeros and ones. Sometimes variously rendered text. Sometimes light. Bashir lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches at Reed College.
Ellen Bass is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her books include Like a Beggar, The Human Line, and Mules of Love which won the Lambda Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines and journals including the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and the New York Times Magazine. She coedited the anthology No More Masks!, and her nonfiction books include The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Bass founded poetry workshops at Salinas Valley State Prison and the Santa Cruz, California jails, and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.
(Photo Credit: Irene Young)
Paul Beatty is the author of The Sellout, for which he became the first American to win the Man Booker Prize. The novel also won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of the New York Times’ Top 10 Books of the year. He is the author of three previous novels—Slumberland, Tuff, and The White Boy Shuffle—and two books of poetry—Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce—as well as the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.
Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His first book, Please, won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. He serves as poetry editor for The Believer. He is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta. His third collection, The Tradition, is new from Copper Canyon Press in spring 2019.
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, and translator. He is the author of Cenzontle (winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Prize), Dulce, and Children of the Land. A CantoMundo Fellow, he cofounded the Undocupoets campaign.
Jos Charles is author of feeld, a winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series, and Safe Space, a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. She is a recipient of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. Charles has an MFA from the University of Arizona and is pursuing a PhD in English from UC Irvine.
(Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles)
Ching-In Chen is author of The Heart's Traffic and recombinant (2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry). Chen is coeditor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets. They received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Can Serrat, and Storyknife, and are part of the Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. A poetry editor of the Texas Review, they teach at Sam Houston State University. chinginchen.com
(Photo Credit: Cassie Mira Nicholson)
Marilyn Chin is the author of the books A Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Selected Poems, Hard Love Province, Rhapsody in Plain Yellow, Dwarf Bamboo, and Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen. She has won numerous awards, including the United States Artists Foundation Award, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Stegner Fellowship, five Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan, a Lannan Residency, and others. She is professor emerita at San Diego State University and serves as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets.
(Photo Credit: Jon Medel)
Nicole Chung's debut memoir All You Can Ever Know was published in October 2018. Her essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Longreads, BuzzFeed, and Hazlitt, among many others. She is the editor in chief of Catapult magazine and the former managing editor of The Toast. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Nicole currently lives in the DC area. Find her on Twitter @nicole_soojung.
Toi Derricotte is the author of six poetry collections, including I: New & Selected Poems, The Undertaker’s Daughter, and Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. In 1996, she cofounded with Cornelius Eady the Cave Canem Foundation, a national poetry organization committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017 and is currently a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.
Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Hodder Fellowship, a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, and a United States Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Arizona State University Creative Writing MFA program.
(Photo Credit: Lamp Left Media, Alonso Parra)
Camille T. Dungy is the author of four books of poetry including Trophic Cascade and Smith Blue. Her book of essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History. She edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, and coedited two other anthologies.
(Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths)
Martín Espada is a poet, editor, essayist, and translator. His latest poetry collection is Vivas to Those Who Have Failed. Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball, The Republic of Poetry, Alabanza, and A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen. His many honors include the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A former tenant lawyer in Boston’s Latino community, Espada is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
(Photo Credit: David González)
Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Registers of Illuminated Villages and the poetry collection Seam, winner of a VIDA Award, a GLCA New Writers’ Award, a Milton Kessler First Book Award, a Drake University Emerging Writer Award, and other honors. Her poems have been published widely in periodicals and anthologies both in the United States and abroad, and are the recipients of a Fulbright Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes, and the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry. She received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and currently teaches in the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program as the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor in Poetry.
(Photo Credit: Tarfia Faizullah)
Nikky Finney was born by the sea in South Carolina and raised during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College she began to autodidactically explore the great intersections between art, history, politics, and culture. She is the author of four books of poetry, On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice, The World Is Round, and Head Off & Split, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. She has written extensively for journals, magazines, and other publications. For twenty-one years she taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky, and now she holds the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
Jennifer Elise Foerster
Jennifer Elise Foerster serves as Interim Director of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ MFA Low-Residency Program, where she also teaches, and codirects an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth in Oklahoma. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, she is the author of Leaving Tulsa and Bright Raft in the Afterweather, both published by the University of Arizona Press. Jennifer earned her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts and her PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver.
Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and currently lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her first novel, History of Wolves, was a finalist for the Booker Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Fiction. It was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Selection, A New York Times Editor’s Choice, one of USA Today’s Notable Books, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a #1 Indie Next pick. Fridlund’s debut story collection, Catapult, won the Mary McCarthy Prize. Her fiction has appeared in a variety of journals, including Boston Review, ZYZZYVA, FiveChapters, New Orleans Review, Sou’wester, New Delta Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Southwest Review.
Tess Gallagher is the author of eight volumes of poetry, including Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems, Dear Ghosts, and Moon Crossing Bridge. Gallagher is also the author of Amplitude: New and Selected Poems, Soul Barnacles: Ten More Years with Ray, A Concert of Tenses: Essays on Poetry, and three collections of short fiction: At the Owl Woman Saloon, The Lover of Horses and Other Stories, and The Man From Kinvara: Selected Stories. She spearheaded the publication of Raymond Carver's Beginners in Library of America's complete collection of his stories. She spends time in a cottage on Lough Arrow in County Sligo in the west of Ireland and also lives and writes in her hometown of Port Angeles, Washington.
(Photo Credit: Brian Farrell)
Carmen Giménez Smith
Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of seven books including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry, and, most recently, Cruel Futures, published by City Lights. She was awarded an American Book Award for Bring Down the Little Birds and the Juniper Prize for Poetry for her collection Goodbye, Flicker. She also coedited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing. She is the codirector for CantoMundo, publisher of Noemi Press, and a Professor of English at Virginia Tech. With Steph Burt, she is poetry editor of The Nation. Her next poetry collection, Be Recorder, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2019.
(Photo Credit: Justin Cox)
Paul Guest is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Because Everything is Terrible, and a memoir, One More Theory About Happiness. His poems have appeared in Poetry, the Paris Review, Harper’s Magazine, Ploughshares, the Southern Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, North American Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. A Guggenheim Fellow and Whiting Award winner, Guest teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia.
Pam Houston is the prizewinning author of six books, including Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country and Contents May Have Shifted. Her works have been selected for Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is professor of English at the University of California, Davis, teaches in the Institute of American Indian Art’s Low-Rez MFA program, and lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.
Mitchell S. Jackson
Mitchell S. Jackson grew up in a neglected neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, in the crime-addled 1990s. In The Residue Years, he channels those experiences in a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful story. His new book is Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family. This part-essay, part-memoir, part-history hybrid uses stories of Jackson’s family and friends to speak to larger issues in American culture, including the racial history of Oregon, whiteness in America, the prison system, drug addiction, criminality, sex work, violence, and broken families. Jackson’s honors include a Whiting Award, fellowships from TED, the Lannan Foundation, NYFA, the BreadLoaf Conference, and the Center for Fiction.
Aisha Sasha John
Aisha Sasha John is a poet and choreographer whose most recent collection, I have to live., was finalist for the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her previous collections include The Shining Material and THOU—finalist for both the Trillium and ReLit book awards. John's solo performance the aisha of is premiered at the Whitney Museum in 2017, and in 2018 was presented by the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) and Toronto’s 2018 Summerworks Festival. John was the 2018 Writer-in-Residence at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She was born in Montreal.
Tayari Jones a New York Times-bestselling author, is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage. Her work appears in Tin House, the Believer, the New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she is a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artists Fellowship, NEA fellowship, and Radcliffe Institute Fellowship. Silver Sparrow joined the Big Read library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.
(Photo Credit: Nina Subin)
Erica Jong is a poet, novelist, and essayist with over twenty-five published books. Her most popular novel, Fear of Flying, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013. Never out of print, it has sold over thirty-five million copies translated into over forty-five languages including Chinese and Arabic. Jong's latest novel, Fear of Dying, was published in 2015/2016 with many international publishers. Her awards include the Fernanda Pivano Award for Literature in Italy, the Sigmund Freud Award in Italy, the Deauville Literary Award in France, the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature, and Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize. Jong's poetry has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, the Paris Review, Haaretz, and more.
Fady Joudah is the author of four collections of poems, most recently Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance, and previously The Earth in the Attic, Alight, and Textu, a book-long sequence of poems whose meter is based on cellphone character count. He has translated from Arabic the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Zaqtan, and others. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN award, a Banipal/TLS prize from the UK, the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim fellowship. He lives in Houston where he practices internal medicine.
(Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles)
Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union and is now an American citizen. He is the author of a previous poetry collection, the award-winning Dancing in Odessa, and coeditor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. He was a 2014 finalist for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and has received numerous honors, including a Whiting Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.
(Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles, 2013, courtesy of the University of Arizona Poetry Center)
Maxine Hong Kingston
Maxine Hong Kingston is Senior Lecturer for Creative Writing at the University of California, Berkeley. For her memoirs and fiction, The Fifth Book of Peace, The Woman Warrior, China Men, Tripmaster Monkey, I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, and Hawai’i One Summer, she has earned numerous awards, among them the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the PEN West Award for Fiction, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and a National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the title of “Living Treasure of Hawai’i.” In July 2014, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama.
(Photo Credit: Maryanne Teng Hogarth)
Lisa Ko is the author of The Leavers, which was a 2017 National Book Award for Fiction finalist, won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2018 PEN/Hemingway Award and the 2017 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. Her writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, the New York Times, BuzzFeed, O Magazine, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the MacDowell Colony, among others. Visit her at lisa-ko.com.
Joy Ladin is the author of nine books of poetry, including two Lambda Literary award finalists, Transmigration and Impersonation, and last year's The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something: New and Selected Poems and Fireworks in the Graveyard, as well as a memoir of gender transition, Through the Door of Life. Her second collection, The Book of Anna, will be reissued next year by EOAGH, and her book about reading the Bible from a trans perspective, The Soul of the Stranger, will published in November by UPNE. She holds the Gottesman Chair in English at Yeshiva University.
Sandra Gail Lambert
Sandra Gail Lambert writes fiction and memoir that are often about the body and its relationship to the natural world. She is a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow. Her books include A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir and the novel The River's Memory. Her writing has been widely anthologized and published in journals such as the Paris Review, the Southern Review, LitHub, New Letters, and Brevity. Lambert is a coeditor of the anthology Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival, andhas mentored for AWP's Writer to Writer Program. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.
Deborah Landau is the author of four collections of poetry. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, the Paris Review, The Best American Poetry, and the New York Times; in 2016 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches in and directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University and lives in Brooklyn with her family. Her latest collection, Soft Targets, is new from Copper Canyon Press in spring 2019.
Dorothea Lasky is the author of five books of poetry: Milk, ROME, Thunderbird, Black Life, and AWE. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Snakes and Poetry is Not a Project. Her poems have appeared in the Paris Review, the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and Boston Review, among other places. She is the coeditor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry and is a Bagley Wright Lecturer on Poetry. She holds a doctorate in creativity and education from the University of Pennsylvania and has been educated at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Washington University.
Ariel Levy is the author of the New York Times-bestselling book The Rules Do Not Apply, a “beautifully crafted” (New York Times Book Review) memoir about one woman’s attempt to resist society’s rules about work, love, and womanhood, and to build an unconventional life instead. In her poignant, humorous talks, Levy shares her story of fierce love and unimaginable loss, resilience and reinvention, and offers insight on the shifting forces in our culture that made her journey possible. She currently writes for the New Yorker.
(Photo Credit: David Klagsbrun)
Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of twenty books. Titles include The Kinda Fella I Am: Stories and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology. His Deaf gay novel Men with Their Hands won first place in the Project: QueerLit Contest 2006. His work has been nominated nine times for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He can be found online at raymondluczak.com.
Dawn Lundy Martin
Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist, and conceptual-video artist. She is the author of four books of poems including Good Stock Strange Blood, Life in a Box is a Pretty Life, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, Discipline, A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering, which won the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, and three limited edition chapbooks. Her nonfiction can be found in the New Yorker, Harper’s, and elsewhere. Martin is Professor of English in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh and codirector of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.
Debra Magpie Earling
Debra Magpie Earling is Bitterroot Salish. Her novel Perma Red won the Western Writers Association Spur Award, WWA’s Medicine Pipe Bearer Award for Best First Novel, a WILLA Literary Award, and the American Book Award. She collaborated with artist Peter Koch on The Lost Journals of Sacajewea. She is the recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship. Perma Red is currently being adapted for a television series.
Terese Marie Mailhot
Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. She is the New York Times-bestselling author of Heart Berries: A Memoir. Her work appears in Guernica, Pacific Standard, Elle, West Branch, BuzzFeed, the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She has also appeared on shows such as PBS NewsHour and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. She graduated with an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. She served as Saturday Editor at The Rumpus and was a columnist at Indian Country Today.
Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novel The Great Believers, longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award, as well as The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime—four stories from which appeared in The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Makkai has taught at the Tin House Writers' Conference and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University. She is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.
Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden, which won the New York/New England Award; Mixology, winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature; and The Big Smoke, awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His most recent collection is Map to the Stars. Matejka’s honors include the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Bellagio Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington and is Poet Laureate of Indiana.
(Photo Credit: Stephen Sproll)
Naomi Ortiz is a facilitator, writer, poet, and visual artist. Caring about the world should not burn us out. Ortiz's book, Sustaining Spirit: Self Care for Social Justice, explores with readers how self-care can work in everyday life by examining relationships between ourselves, community, and place. She is a Disabled Mestiza (Latina/Indigenous/White) who was raised in Latinx culture and lives in the U.S./Mexico borderlands. For speaking/workshops on self-care, disability justice, and living in multiple worlds, visit: NaomiOrtiz.com. Twitter: @ThinkFreestyle. Instagram: NaomiOrtizWriterArtist
Morgan Parker is the author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night. In 2019, a third collection of poems, Magical Negro, will be published by Tin House, and a young adult novel will be published by Delacorte Press. Parker is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize. She is the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel in New York, co-curates the Poets With Attitude reading series, and lives in Los Angeles.
Roger Reeves received an MFA in creative writing and a PhD in English from the University of Texas, Austin. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Best American Poetry, and the Indiana Review, among other publications, and he was included in Best New Poets 2009. Reeves was awarded a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation in 2008; he is also the recipient of two Bread Loaf scholarships and a Cave Canem Fellowship. In 2012, Reeves received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize for his poem “The Field Museum.” He is an Associate Professor of Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin, and a 2014–2015 Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University. King Me is Reeves’s first book.
Eden Robinson is a Haisla/Heiltsuk author who grew up in Haisla, British Columbia. Her first book, Traplines, a collection of short stories, won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998. Monkey Beach, her first novel, was shortlisted for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction in 2000 and won the BC Book Prizes' Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Her novel Son of a Trickster was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. Her latest novel is its sequel, Trickster Drift.
(Photo Credit: Red Works Studio)
Karen Russell, a native of Miami, won the 2012 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2012 Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Danzy Senna rose to international literary fame with her first novel, Caucasia. Since then she has become a respected literary voice who consistently challenges our culture's defined norms. Her latest book, New People, is a subversive and engrossing story of race, class, and manners in contemporary America that received widespread acclaim and was selected as a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year. A favorite with universities and libraries, Senna speaks about her craft as both a memoirist and fiction writer, and the timely themes that define her work.
(Photo Credit: Mara Casey)
Solmaz Sharif was born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, and holds degrees from University of California, Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her debut collection Look was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 PEN Open Book Award. In 2017, Sharif was the recipient of the 27th annual PEN Center USA Literary Award in Poetry for Look. Sharif has published poetry in the New Republic and Poetry, and has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.
Evie Shockley is the author of semiautomatic, which was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, and the new black, winner of the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, among other collections of poetry. She has also published a critical study, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry. Her poetry and essays appear widely in journals and anthologies. Her honors include the 2015 Stephen Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry and the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize. Shockley is a Professor of English at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.
Joan Silber is the author of eight books of fiction. The most recent, Improvement, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her previous book, Fools, was longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Other works include The Size of the World, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize, and Ideas of Heaven, finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Warren Wilson College MFA program.
(Photo Credit: C Shari Diamond)
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times-bestselling memoir Wild, which became an Oscar-nominated film, and Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of her popular advice columns. In addition to her bestselling books, Strayed hosted a New York Times podcast, Dear Sugars, with Steve Almond, in which she dispensed “radically empathetic” advice. Strayed’s story of survival motivates and inspires audiences of all kinds, but she especially loves talking to writers about craft, her writing process, and how she shapes her stories with grit and humor.
(Photo Credit: Joni Kabana)
Luis Alberto Urrea
Luis Alberto Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his landmark work of nonfiction The Devil's Highway, is also the bestselling author of the novels The Hummingbird's Daughter, Into the Beautiful North, and Queen of America, as well as the story collection The Water Museum, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist. He has won the Lannan Literary Award, an Edgar Award, and a 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, among many other honors. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an American mother, he lives outside of Chicago and teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
(Photo Credit: Joe Mazza)
Mai Der Vang
Mai Der Vang is the author of Afterland, winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Poetry, and a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, she served as a visiting writer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. A member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle, she coedited How Do I Begin: A Hmong American Literary Anthology. She earned degrees from the University of California Berkeley and Columbia University. In fall 2019, Vang will teach in the Creative Writing MFA Program at Fresno State.
(Photo Credit: Andre Yang)
Aldrin Valdez is a Pinoy artist. They are the author of ESL or You Weren't Here. Valdez has been awarded fellowships from Queer|Art|Mentorship and Poets House. Their poetry and visual art appear in The Felt, Femmescapes, Nat. Brut, Poor Claudia, and The Recluse. Valdez has presented work at Dixon Place, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Poetry Project. Collaborating with writer and organizer Ted Kerr, Valdez co-organized Foundational Sharing (2011–2015), a salon series of readings, performances, and visual art. Currently, Valdez and fellow poet Joël Díaz are co-curators of the December 2018/January 2019 season for the Segue Reading Series.
Max Wolf Valerio
Max Wolf Valerio is an iconoclastic poet and writer, and a long-transitioned man of transsexual history. Max is an amalgam of many perspectives and passages but first—an individual. Essays have included pre-transition work in the anthology This Bridge Called My Back, and post-transition essays in This Bridge We Call Home and The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism. A poetry chapbook, Animal Magnetism, appeared in 1984. Recent poetry includes “Exile: Vision Quest at the Edge of Identity”—a long poem set to ambient music and excerpted in Yellow Medicine Review and made possible by a Native American Arts and Cultural Traditions Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission; a collaboration with photographer Dana Smith, Mission Mile Trilogy +1; and poems in the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. His memoir, The Testosterone Files was a Lambda Finalist in 2006. A book of his poetry, The Criminal: The Invisibility of Parallel Forces is forthcoming in spring 2019 from EOAGH Books.
Esmé Weijun Wang
Esmé Weijun Wang is the author of the novel The Border of Paradise, and is the recipient of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize for the 2019 essay collection The Collected Schizophrenias. She received a 2018 Whiting Award and was named by Granta as one of the “Best of Young American Novelists” in 2017. Born in the Midwest to Taiwanese parents, she lives in San Francisco, and can be found at esmewang.com and on Twitter @esmewang.
Jesmyn Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, and her novel Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award, are set in the aftermath of natural disaster. Her latest novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, won a second National Book Award—making her the first woman and first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction. Ward is also the author of the memoir Men We Reaped and the editor of the anthology The First This Time. Her honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and the Strauss Living award. She teaches creative writing at Tulane University.
G. Willow Wilson
G. Willow Wilson is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Alif the Unseen, which won the World Fantasy Award in 2013; the memoir The Butterfly Mosque; the graphic novels Cairo, Air, and Vixen; and the celebrated comic book series Ms. Marvel. She divides her time between Cairo and Seattle.
(Photo Credit: Amber French)
Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the award-winning memoir The Chronology of Water and the novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children. Her TED Talk on the beauty of being a misfit has received over two million views, and her book based on the talk, The Misfit's Manifesto, is a polyvocal tribute to the value of being different. She has won two Oregon Book Awards and lives in Oregon where she developed the Corporeal Writing Workshops.
Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador. His first full-length collection, Unaccompanied, explores how immigration and the civil war have impacted his family. He holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University (Olive B. O'Connor), MacDowell, Macondo, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation (Ruth Lilly), Stanford University, and Yaddo. He has also received a 2017 Lannan Literary Fellowship, the 2017 Narrative Prize, and the 2016 Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award for his work in the Undocupoets Campaign. Zamora is a 2018–2019 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.
(Photo Credit: Ana Ruth Zamora)
AWP Award Series Readers
Scroll over presenter photos for biographies.
Joshua Bernstein’s forthcoming story collection, STICK-LIGHT, was a finalist for the Robert C. Jones and Beverly Prizes. His work has appeared in Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, Tampa Review, Tin House (web), and other journals, and won the Hackney Novel Prize, the Knut House Novel Contest, and the John Gunyon Award. A Chicago native, he is an assistant professor of English at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the fiction editor of Tikkun.
Jon Chopan is an assistant professor of creative writing at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. His first collection, Pulled From the River, was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2012. His work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Hotel Amerika, Post Road, Epiphany, The Southampton Review, and elsewhere.
Wang Ping was born in China and came to the U.S. in 1986. Her publications of poetry and prose include American Visa, Foreign Devil, Of Flesh and Spirit, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China, The Magic Whip, The Dragon Emperor, The Last Communist Virgin, and Flashcards: Poems by Yu Jian. She won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities and is the recipient of an NEA fellowship, the Bush Artist Fellowship for poetry, the McKnight Fellowship for nonfiction, and many others. She received her Distinct Immigrant Award in 2014, and was Venezuela International Poet of Honor in 2015. She’s also a photographer and installation artist. Her multimedia exhibitions include Behind the Gate: After the Flood of the Three Gorges, and Kinship of Rivers at schools, colleges, galleries, museums, lock and dams, and confluences along the Mississippi River. She is professor of English at Macalester College, and founder and director of Kinship of Rivers project.
Brynne Rebele-Henry’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, Fiction International, Rookie, and So to Speak, among other places. Her writing has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, the 2016 Adroit Prize for Prose, and a 2017 Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner. Her first book, Fleshgraphs, appeared from Nightboat Books in September 2016. She was born in 1999.
- Terese Marie Mailhot