2014 Speaker Bios
Jane Hirshfield is the author of seven books of poetry, including most recently Come, Thief (Knopf, 2011), just released in paperback. Hirshfield’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the Times Literary Supplement, The Washington Post, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, and seven editions of The Best American Poetry. Her honors include The Poetry Center Book Award, the California Book Award, the Donald Hall‐Jane Kenyon Award in American Poetry, finalist selection for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts. A frequent presenter at universities and literary festivals both in the US and abroad, in 2012 she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is an internationally known poet, performer, writer, and saxophone player of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. Her seven books of poetry include such well-known titles as How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses, all published by W.W. Norton. Her poetry has garnered many awards including the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, 1998 Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.
Considered by many to be a master of short, lyric free verse, Gregory Orr is the author of ten collections of poetry. His most recent volumes include How Beautiful The Beloved, published in 2009, and Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved, published in 2005, both by Copper Canyon Press. The River Inside the River will be published by W.W. Norton in 2013. His other volumes of poetry include The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems (2002); Orpheus and Eurydice (2001); City of Salt, Finalist for the LA Times Poetry Prize; We Must Make a Kingdom of It; and The Red House.
Jericho Brown‘s first collection of poetry, Please (New Issues, 2008), won the 2009 American Book Award, and has received tremendous praise since its release. Terrance Hayes notes ”Please is saturated with an artful passion that gives fire to Jericho Brown’s elegies and pathos to his odes. This is the poetry of bloodship: the meaning of family, of love, of sexuality; the resonances of pain and the possibilities of redemption. No wonder there are so many people naming and being named here. No wonder Jericho Brown and his divas and misfits, his tricksters and innocents call out and answer to ‘a please that sounds like music.’ Intimate, honest, immediate—I could never say all I love about this book….” Brown is currently working on his second collection of poetry, The New Testament.
Eduardo C. Corral is a CantoMundo fellow. He holds degrees from Arizona State University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012, Beloit Poetry Journal, Huizache, Jubilat, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Quarterly West. His work has been honored with a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from Poetry, and writing residencies to the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He has served as the Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Creative Writing at Colgate University and as the Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University. Slow Lightning, his first book of poems, was selected by Carl Phillips as the 2011 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, he currently lives in New York City, teaching at Columbia University in the spring 2013.
James Tolan is author of Mass of the Forgotten (Autumn House Press) and the chapbooks Red Walls (Dos Madres Press) and Fresh Fruit and Gravity (Far Gone Books). He is co-editor with Holly Messitt of New America: Contemporary Literature for a Changing Society. Originally from Chicago, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, worked for years as a poet in the New York City public schools with Teachers and Writers Collaborative, and is now an associate professor at the City University of New York. He is the co-editor of the on-line journal New America Literary Review. His website is www.jamestolan.com.
Susan B.A. Somers-Willett is the author of two award-winning books of poetry, Quiver (University of Georgia Press, 2009) and Roam (Crab Orchard Award Series, 2006), as well as a book of criticism, The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2009). Her writing and criticism has been featured by several journals including The Iowa Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, Poets & Writers, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Her collaborative multi-media documentary poetry series “Women of Troy” aired on PRI and BBC radio affiliates and received a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media. Her other honors include the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize, the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. Visit her website at www.susansw.com.
Jenny Browne is the author of three collections of poems: At Once, The Second Reason, and Dear Stranger. As poet and critic Stephen Burt writes in The Believer, “Set beside contemporaries whose poems consist largely of alienated critique, Browne stands out for her ordinary affections; set beside more populist writers who proclaim their ordinariness, she stands out (and evades sentimentality) because her reactions to her life remain so strange…Her poems retain the unpredictability not of a roulette wheel or a supernova, but of a quirky, wise friend in another city, one whose reactions surprise us even once we know her enough to trust her well.” Recent work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, The New York Times and Tin House. She is the recipient of two Texas Writers League Fellowships and is a 2012 NEA Literature Fellow. She has worked as poet in residence across the state for the Texas Commission on the Arts, and across the world for the University of Iowa’s International Writers Program.. The rest of the time she lives in downtown San Antonio and teaches at Trinity University.