Visiting Writers Series

One of the most anticipated aspects of the MFA in Creative Writing residencies is the Visiting Writers Series. Visiting writers are generous with their expertise and share their craft with students through readings, workshops, and informal discussions. Visiting writers have included Christopher Durang, Samuel R. Delaney, Jessica Hagedorn, Stephen Kuusisto, Deena Metzger, and Robert Morgan. Below are profiles of some of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program’s recent and upcoming visiting writers at the Plainfield, Vermont, and Port Townsend, Washington, residency sites.

Past visiting writers include:

Jeremy+Pikser+2015+Writers+Guild+Awards+New+KgDZwAvOhe8lJeremy Pikser – Appearing at the Fall 2016 Plainfield, Vermont Residency

Jeremy Pikser is an award-winning screenwriter best known for Bulworth (co-written with Warren Beatty), which was nominated for Academy, Golden Globe, and WGA Awards for best screenplay, and won the LA Film Critics Best Screenplay award for 1998. Pikser got his start working as a “special consultant” and uncredited writer on the film Reds (also with Beatty, and also nominated for an Academy Award for screenplay). He wrote The Lemon Sisters, starring Diane Keaton, Carol Kane, Elliott Gould, Kathryn Grody, and Ruben Blades, and War, Inc. (co-written with Mark Leyner and John Cusack), starring Cusack, Marissa Tomei, Ben Kingsley, and Hilary Duff, which premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. He was “supervising writer” for Pink Subaru, which opened at the Turin Film Festival in 2009. Pikser teaches screenwriting at New York University in the Rita and Burton Goldberg department of dramatic writing at the Tisch School of the Arts, and is a regular advisor at the Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab. He is also an occasional contributor to The Huffington Post and he has commented on the writer’s strike and other subjects on The Guardian website Comment Is Free. Pikser cut his activist teeth at Oberlin College, where he was a leading opponent of the Vietnam War, and was one of the authors and organizers of the Not in Our Name Statement of Conscience opposing the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Chris Abani 

Chris Abani’s prose includes the novels The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007) GraceLand (FSG, 2004/Picador 2005), Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985) and the novellas, Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006) and Song For Night (Akashic, 2007). His poetry collections are Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne’s Lot (Red Hen, 2003), and Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001). He is a Professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award & the PEN Hemingway Book Prize.

Kim AddonizioKim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently What Is This Thing Called Love (W.W. Norton). Her novel, Little Beauties, was recently published by Simon & Schuster. With Dorianne Laux, she co-authored The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton). She has received numerous awards for her poetry and fiction, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships, and the Mississippi Review Fiction Prize.


Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez is a poet and fiction writer. Her first collection of poems, Homecoming, was published by Grove Press, fall l984, and reissued again with new poems by Dutton in 1996 as Homecoming: New and Collected Poems. Her first novel, How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, won the PEN Josephine Miles Book Award for 1992 and was selected a Notable Book by The New York Times and an American Library Notable Book, 1992. Her second novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, was a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Award in fiction, 1995. Her second book of poems, The Other Side/EL Otro Lado, was published in 1995. Her third novel, ÁYO!, was published in January, 1997. Her novels have been translated into several languages including, Spanish, French, Danish, Norwegian, Italian, Greek, Swedish, and German. Her book of essays, Something to Declare, was published in the fall, 1998. She has served as Kentucky’s poet in the schools for two years; she has conducted creative writing workshops for bilingual students in Delaware and senior citizens in North Carolina, workshops which culminated in two anthologies, Yo Soy/I Am and Old Age Ain’t for Sissies. She has taught English and Creative Writing at California State College, College of the Sequoias, Phillips Andover Academy, the University of Vermont, and the University of Illinois. Since 1988, Alvarez has taught at Middlebury College where she is the Writer-in-Residence. Other awards for her fiction and poetry include: the Third Woman Press Award in Fiction; a General Electric Younger Writers’ Award, 1986, in fiction; a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, l987; an Ingram Merrill Foundation Grant, 1990, in fiction, as well as the American Poetry Review’s Jessica Nobel-Maxwell Prize for poetry, 1996. In May, 1997, the national book fair in the Dominican Republic was dedicated to her, in honor, especially, of her novel In The Time Of The Butterflies. The book recounts, fictionally, the story of three sisters who started the underground against the dictator and were murdered in 1960. Three months earlier, Julia Alvarez and her family had escaped to the United States.

Jane AndersonJane Anderson

Jane Anderson is a multi-award winning writer and director who has created some of the most thought-provoking theater, film and television in the last two decades. Her plays have been produced Off-Broadway and in theaters around the country, including Actors Theater of Louisville, Williamstown, The McCarter Theater, Long Wharf and The Pasadena Playhouse. Her published plays: Looking for Normal, The Baby Dance, Defying Gravity, Food & Shelter, Smart Choices for the New Century, Lynette at 3 a.m. and The Last Time We Saw Her. Other works include The Pink Studio and Hotel Oubliette. Her most recent play, The Quality of Life, premiered at the Geffen Playhouse and produced at A.C.T. and was directed by Ms. Anderson. She wrote and directed The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio. She wrote and directed Normal for HBO which garnered six Emmy nominations (including best writing, directing and best made-for-TV film), three Golden Globe nominations, and Director’s Guild and Writer’s Guild nominations for best directing and writing. She wrote HBO’s ground-breaking The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom for which she received an Emmy, a Penn Award and Writers Guild Award for best teleplay. Her other television films include When Billie Beat Bobby and The Baby Dance for which she received a Peabody Award, a Golden Globe nomination and three Emmy nominations for best writing and made-for-TV film. She wrote and directed the first segment of If These Walls Could Talk II which starred Vanessa Redgrave and earned Ms. Anderson an Emmy nomination for best writing. Her other screenwriting credits include: How to Make an American Quilt and It Could Happen to You. Ms. Anderson resides in Los Angeles with her spouse Tess Ayers and their son, Raphael.

Nilo Cruz

Nilo Cruz, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer prize for Drama, is a young Cuban-American playwright whose work has been produced widely around the United States. His plays are many and include Anna in the Tropics,The Beauty of the Father, Night Train to Bolina, Dancing on her Knees, A Park in Our House, Two Sisters and a Piano, A Bicycle Country, Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams (World premiere at New Theatre 2001), Lorca in a Green Dress, and translations of Lorca’s Doña Rosita the Spinster and The House of Bernarda Alba. Nilo has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including two NEA/TCG National Theatre Artist Residency grants, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, San Francisco’s W. Alton Jones award and a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays award. His work has been seen at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey, at New York’s Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theatre, at South Coast Rep, at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, New York Theatre Workshop, Magic Theatre, Minneapolis Children’s Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Washington’s Studio Theatre, Florida Stage, The Coconut Grove Playhouse, and at New Theatre.

Erik DavidErik Davis

Erik Davis is a San Francisco-based writer, performer, and teacher. He is the author of The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape, and TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information, which has become a cult classic of visionary media studies. He also wrote a short book of “occulture criticism” on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. Davis has lectured at universities and festivals around the world, has contributed to scores of magazines and books, was a contributing writer for Wired and the Village Voice for many years, and has taught at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Pacifica, Maybe Logic Academy, and the California Institute of Integral Studies. He also wrote the libretto for How to Survive the Apocalypse, a Burning Man-inspired rock opera.

Mark Doty

Mark Doty, the only American poet to have won Great Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize, is the author of seven books of poems, including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (2008, Harper). The first, Turtle, Swan, appeared in 1987. His third collection, My Alexandria (1993), received both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Since then he has published Atlantis (1995), Sweet Machine (1998), Source (2001), and School of the Arts (2005, HarperCollins). He is the author of the memoirs Heaven’s Coast (1996), Firebird (1999), and Dog Years (2007), for which he won an American Library Association Stonewall Book Award. His interest in the visual arts is evident not only in his poems but also in his book-length essay “Still Life with Oysters and Lemon” (2001). Among his many other awards are two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award, and the Witter Byner Prize. As the award citation for the last of these noted, “Mark Doty’s poems extend the range of the American lyric.” Doty teaches in the graduate program the University of Houston, and is a frequent guest at Columbia University, Hunter College, and NYU. He lives in Houston and in New York City.

Mary Gaitskill
Mary Gaitskill is the author of the novels, Veronica (2005), Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991) and the collections, Bad Behavior (1988) and Because They Wanted To, which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998 . Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories (1993), and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). Her story Secretary was the basis for the film of the same name. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. She lives in New York. “….Gaitskill is reaching further into her preoccupations than ever before, and the novel is full of very real pleasures. Her prose has a perfumed clarity. She tacks against the upright dichotomies of our historical moment – dichotomies that shape how we think and who we are but are often more contingent than we know. In Veronica, as ever, Gaitskill’s brand of brainy lyricism, of acid shot through with grace, is unlike anyone else’s. And it constitutes some of the most incisive fiction writing around.” – The New York Times Sunday Book Review – Meghan O’Rourke.

Cristina GarciaCristina García

Cristina García is the author of four novels: Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, and A Handbook to Luck. She has edited two anthologies, Cubanísimo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature and Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature. Two works for young readers, The Dog Who Loved the Moon, and I Wanna Be Your Shoebox were published in 2008. A collection of poetry, The Lesser Tragedy of Death, will be published by Akashic Press in 2010. García’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into fourteen languages. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, A Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and an NEA grant, among others. She is currently the artistic director for the Centrum Writers Exchange in Port Townsend, Washington and teaches at Mills College.

Thomas Glave 

Thomas Glave was born in the Bronx and grew up there and in Kingston, Jamaica. A graduate of Bowdoin College and Brown University, Glave traveled as a Fulbright Scholar to Jamaica, where he studied Jamaican historiography and Caribbean intellectual and literary traditions. While in Jamaica, Glave worked on issues of social justice, and helped found the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG). Glave is author of the essay collection Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (Minnesota), nominated for a 2006 Publishing Triangle Gay Mens’ Nonfiction Award and winner of a 2005 Lambda Literary Award. His fiction collection, Whose Song? and Other Stories (City Lights), was nominated by the American Library Association for their Best Gay/Lesbian Book of the Year award and by the Quality Paperback Book Club for their Violet Quill/Best New Gay/Lesbian Fiction Award. His edited anthology, Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles, will appear from Duke University Press in 2008. The recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including an O. Henry Prize for fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, Glave was named a Writer on the Verge by The Village Voice in 2000. He presently teaches in the English department at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

David GreenspanDavid Greenspan

David Greenspan has directed and performed in his plays Jack, Principia, The Home Show Pieces, 2 Samuel 11, Etc., Dead Mother, or Shirley Not All in Vain, She Stoops to Comedy (Obie), The Myopia, an epic burlesque of tragic proportion and The Argument. These have been produced in New York by the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, The Foundry and Target Margin Theater and overseas by The Royal Court in London, Citizens Theatre in Glasgow and Stükke Theater in Berlin. He is currently collaborating with Stephin Merritt on a musical adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and adapting Aristophanes’ Frogs for David Herskovits and Target Margin Theater. As an actor, he received an Obie for his performances in Terrence McNally’s Some Men at Second Stage and Goethe’s Faust with Target Margin. Additional credits include The Beebo Brinker Chronicles with Hourglass (directed by Leigh Silverman), The Dinner Party with Target Margin, Kathleen Tolan’s The Wax at Playwrights Horizons, Lipstick Traces with The Foundry and Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band (Obie). An alumnus of New Dramatists, he has received Revson, McKnight, Guggenheim, Lucille Lortel Foundation fellowships and an Alpert Award.

Shelley JacksonShelley Jackson

Shelley Jackson is the author of the story collection The Melancholy of Anatomy, the novel Half Life, hypertexts including Patchwork Girl, and several children’s books. Her stories and essays have appeared in journals including McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, The Paris Review and Cabinet Magazine. In 2004 she launched her project SKIN, a story published in tattoos on 2095 volunteers. The recipient of a Howard Foundation grant, a Pushcart Prize,and the 2006 James Tiptree Jr Award, she is the co-founder with artist Christine Hill of the Interstitial Library, and headmistress of the Shelley Jackson Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children, a work in progress.

Joan LarkinJoan Larkin

Joan Larkin’s latest book, My Body: New and Selected Poems (Hanging Loose Press), received the Publishing Triangle’s 2008 Audre Lorde Award. David Ulin of the Los Angeles Times has called Larkin’s voice “unsentimental, ruthless and clear-eyed…. This is poetry without pity, in which despair leads not to degradation but to a kind of grace.” Larkin’s previous books include Housework, A Long Sound, Sor Juana’s Love Poems (co-translated with Jaime Manrique), and Cold River, winner of the Lambda Award for poetry. Larkin co-founded the independent press Out & Out Books as part of the feminist literary explosion of the 1970s and co-edited the groundbreaking anthologies Amazon Poetry,Lesbian Poetry with Elly Bulkin, and Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time with Carl Morse. Her anthology A Woman Like That was nominated for Publishing Triangle and Lambda awards for nonfiction in 2000. Among other awards, Larkin has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her writing includes two books of daily meditations in the Hazelden recovery series, If You Want What We Have and Glad Day. Now in her fourth decade of teaching writing, she will join the faculty of Drew University’s MFA program in poetry and translation in January. Poet and critic David Bergman has written, “There are few poets in America who can combine Joan Larkin’s formal mastery with her emotional intensity, and so it has been something of a mystery to me why she’s not better known or more widely valued as one of the finest poets in America.”

Dorianne Laux

Dorianne Laux is the author of three collections of poetry from BOA Editions, Awake (1990), introduced by Philip Levine, What We Carry (1994), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Smoke (2000). She is also co-author, with Kim Addonizio, of The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton, 1997). Recent work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Shenandoah, and Ploughshares. Among her awards are a Pushcart Prize for poetry, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Dorianne is an Associate Professor and works at the University of Oregon Program in Creative Writing.

James Lecesne

His one-man play, Word of Mouth: The Story of a Human Satellite Dish, was presented Off Broadway by Mike Nichols and Elaine May in 1995 and won the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Solo Performance. Word of Mouth premiered at The Home for Contemporary Theater in NY and played at La Mama ETC., The New Mexico Repertory Co., The Coast Playhouse in L.A. (The L.A. Theater Weekly Award), San Francisco’s Bayfront Theater (Bay Area Theater Award) and at the International Boulevard Theater Festival in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The short feature film, Trevor, which was written by Mr. Lecesne and based on one of the stories from Word of Mouth, received an Academy Award in 1995 for Best Live Action Short Film, and also won first prize at the Hamptons’ Film Festival and honorable Mention at Sundance Film Festival. Trevor went on to inspire The Trevor Helpline — a national, twenty four-hour, suicide-prevention hotline for Gay and Lesbian Teens. The musical play, One Man Band, written by Mr. Lecesne with music and lyrics by Larry Hochamn and Marc Elliot, premiered Off-Broadway and was produced at The Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, The Grand Center in St. Louis, and The Downstairs Cabaret Theater in Rochester. Mr. Lecesne created The Road Home: Stories of Children of War, which was presented last year at The Asia Society in NYC, and at the International Peace Initiative at The Hague. He just completed adapting Armistead Maupin’s Further Tales of the City for Showtime, which will air in the Spring of 2001. His feature film, Virgin Territory, is being produced by John Lyons. As an actor, Mr. Lecesne’s theater credits include, Cloud 9, directed by Tommy Tune, Extraordinary Measures, written and directed by Eve Ensler at Here, the 30th Anniversary production of Boys in the Band, directed by Ken Elliot, and last summer he played Armold Beckoff in Provincetown’s 25th Anniversary Production of Torchsong Triology. He teaches playwriting at NYU.

Patricia Marx

Patricia Marx writes comedy because she is too shallow to do anything else. She writes for film and television; she also writes books and magazine pieces. Patricia Marx’s television credits include Saturday Night Live and Rugrats. Among her books are: How To Regain Your Virginity, Blockbuster, You Can Never Go Wrong By Lying, and several children’s books illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, including Now Everybody Really Hates Me and Now I Will Never Leave the Dinner Table. Her book Meet My Staff was the winner of the Friedrich Medal—an award that was invented by Patricia Marx and named after her air-conditioner. The Friedrich Medal has never been received by anyone other than Patricia Marx. Patricia Marx’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Vogue, and the Atlantic Monthly. She would rather not talk about her film credits (a view shared, apparently, by various studio executives). Patricia Marx teaches sketch comedy at New York University. She was the first girl on the Harvard Lampoon. She is able to take a baked potato out of the oven with her bare hand. Patricia Marx is the oldest and favorite of three children. She grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia where she attended Abington High School, which, as was pointed out over the PA system every morning, was “First in the alphabet, first in achievement, and first in attitude!” Patricia Marx, usually known as Patty, is neither the Patricia Marx married to Daniel Ellsberg, who changed history when he released the Pentagon Papers; nor is she the ravishing young Brazilian singer Patricia Marx, whose popular albums contain a blend of hip hop, funk, Bossa Nova, and even some terrific make-out music. She would like to be mistaken for either of these women. Because she trusts you, Patricia Marx would like you to know that her banking card password is “BROKE”. For security reasons, we cannot reveal which Patricia Marx we are talking about.

Frances McCueFrances McCue

Frances McCue, artistic director and co-founder of Richard Hugo House, is a poet, art reviewer, essayist, teacher and an arts instigator. Frances was a winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize in 1992, and her book, The Stenographer’s Breakfast, was published by Beacon Press. She has published in magazines from MS to Poetry Northwest. Frances has an M.F.A in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is an Adjunct Professor of Education at Seattle University, a Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington, a freelance art reviewer for The Seattle Times and she was an Echoing Green Fellow from 1998-2002. She has won grants from Hedgebrook, Artist Trust and 4 Culture. Frances is interested in poets who are turning to prose projects and would love to talk more about that.

Rick MoodyRick Moody 

Rick Moody’s first novel, Garden State, was the winner of the 1991 Editor’s Choice Award from the Pushcart Press and was published in 1992. The Ice Storm was published in May 1994 by Little, Brown & Co. Foreign editions have been published in twenty countries, and a film version, directed by Ang Lee, was released by Fox Searchlight in 1997. His newest novel is entitled The Diviners. Right Livelihoods, a novella, was published in 2007. A collection of short fiction, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven, was also published by Little, Brown & Co. in August 1995. The title story was the winner of the 1994 Aga Khan Award from The Paris Review. Moody’s third novel, Purple America, was published in April 1997. Foreign editions have appeared widely. An anthology, edited with Darcey Steinke, Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited, also appeared in November 1997. In 1998, Moody received the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2000, he received a Guggenheim fellowship. In 2001, he published a collection of short fiction, Demonology, also published in Spain, France, Brazil, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Italy, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. In May of 2002, Little, Brown & Co issued The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions, which was a winner of the NAMI/Ken Book Award, and the PEN Martha Albrand prize for excellence in the memoir. His short fiction and journalism have been anthologized in Best American Stories 2001, Best American Essays 2004, Year’s Best Science Fiction #9, and, multiply, in the Pushcart Prize anthology. His radio pieces have appeared on The Next Big Thing and at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. His album Rick Moody and One Ring Zero was released in 2004, and an album by The Wingdale Community Singers was released in 2005. Moody is a member of the board of directors of the Corporation of Yaddo. He is the secretary of the PEN American Center, and he co-founded the Young Lions Book Award at the New York Public Library. He has taught at the State University of New York at Purchase, the Bennington College Writing Seminars, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the New School for Social Research. Rick Moody was born in New York City. He attended Brown and Columbia universities. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Tracie Morris

Tracie Morris, one of the country’s most exciting and popular spoken word poets, has worked steadily over the last decade to redefine the limits of what poetry, and a poet, can be. While she is the author of two poetry collections—Intermission and Chap-T-her Won—and has been anthologized in a host of literary volumes, an important part of her process is to determine which “medium” best suits each poem. Some of her poems are to be experienced by being read on the page, others by being performed sonically, and some poems which do both. In the case of sound poems—poems whose meaning is based on the sounds of words, not just their literal meanings—Morris believes they are meant to engage the body by the auditory and physical presence created by the incremental manipulation of the words. She holds a BA and MFA from Hunter College and an MA from New York University where she is now a PhD candidate.

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is the critically acclaimed author of twenty-three books. His work has been translated into twenty-one languages. Many readers first discovered Walter’s writing in the Easy Rawlins mystery series. The first book in the series, Devil in a Blue Dress, was made into a feature film starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals. In addition to his successful mysteries, Walter’s books span the genres of literary fiction, young adult fiction, science fiction and nonfiction. Both his fiction and nonfiction appear in a wide array of publications including The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Los Angeles Times Magazine and The Nation.  Walter’s decisions as a businessman and writer reflect his commitment to empowerment and building community. He chose the small independent press, Black Classic Press, to publish the prequel to the Easy Rawlins series, Gone Fishin’. He felt it was important “to create a model that other writers, black or not, can look at to see that it’s possible to publish a book successfully outside mainstream publishing in New York.” Black Classic Press also published What Next, part political essay, part handbook for community action that examines the singular kinds of contributions and patterns of belief and action African Americans can add to any approach towards world peace. Life out of Context (Nation Books) moves from Walter’s personal experience of cultural dislocation to his call for African-Americans creation of a new political party.

Harryette Mullen - Photo Credit: Hank LazerHarryette Mullen

Harryette Mullen teaches American poetry, African American literature, and creative writing at UCLA. She has been a visiting faculty member at Callaloo Writers Workshop, Cave Canem Poets Workshop, Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Idyllwild Summer Arts, Napa Valley Writers Conference, and Naropa University, and a visiting writer and scholar at many other universities, arts institutions, and artist communities. Her poems, short stories, and essays have been published widely and reprinted in over seventy anthologies. Her work has been selected twice for the annual Best American Poetry anthology series. She is a recipient of a Katherine Newman Award for Best Essay on Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry. Her poetry is included in the latest edition of the Norton Anthology of African American Literature and Oxford Anthology of African American Poetry. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Polish, Swedish, Turkish, and Bulgarian. She is the author of several poetry books, most recently Recyclopedia (Graywolf, 2006), winner of a PEN Beyond Margins Award. Her book Sleeping with the Dictionary (University of California, 2002) was a finalist for a National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2004; a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2005; and an Eli and Edythe Broad Fellowship from United States Artists in 2008.  Photo Credit: Hank Lazer.

Ruth OzekiRuth Ozeki

Ozeki’s first two novels, My Year of Meats (1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into eleven languages and published in fourteen countries. Her most recent work, A Tale for the Time Being (2013), was the winner of the LA Times Book Prize for Fiction, the Independent Bookseller Week, Book of the Year, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Awards, and the American Booksellers Association (ABA) Indies Choice Award for Fiction, among others. Ozeki’s documentary and dramatic independent films, including “Halving the Bones,” have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. She lives in British Columbia and New York City.

Marie Ponsot 

Native New Yorker Marie Ponsot was born in 1921. She has published numerous works, including Springing (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002); The Bird Catcher (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The GreenDark (1988); Admit Impediment (1981); and True Minds (1957). When asked why poetry matters, Ponsot replied: “There’s a primitive need for language that works as an instrument of discovery and relief, that can make rich the cold places of our inner worlds with the memorable tunes and dreams poems hold for us.” Ponsot, who also translates books from the French, has taught in graduate programs at Queens College, Beijing United University, the Poetry Center of the YMHA, and New York University. Among her awards are a creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize, and the Shaughnessy Medal of the Modern Language Association. Marie Ponsot teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University in New York City.

Patricia Powell

Patricia Powell is the author of Me Dying Trial, A Small Gathering of Bones, The Pagoda and a recently completed novel manuscript, The Fullness of Everything. Her awards include the Bruce Rossley Literary Award, the Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction, PEN New England Discovery Award, and the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers’ Award. Powell has taught creative writing at Harvard University, Wellesley College, the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Graduate Writing Program at the University of Houston, and the Low Residency Program at Queens University in Charlotte. Powell lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

David Rakoff

Born and raised in Canada, David Rakoff is the author of the book Fraud (Doubleday hardcover; Broadway paperback). A regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Outside, and Public Radio International’s This American Life, his writing has also appeared in GQ, Salon, Details, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Wired, New York Magazine, and The New York Observer, among others. He has appeared on “The Late Show with David letterman,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” As an actor and director, he has worked with Amy and David Sedaris on the plays Stitches, One Woman Shoe, The Little Freida Mysteries, and The Book of Liz. He directed Jail Babes by The Dueling Bankheads at La Mama, E.T.C., and Mike Albo’s one-man show, Spray, at P.S. 122 in New York, appeared in Cheryl Dunyé’s film The Watermelon Woman, and has portrayed Lance Loud on stage, Vladimir Mayakovsky on public television, and Sigmund Freud in the window of Barney’s department store. He lives in New York City, and has done so since 1982.

Claudia Rankine

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, poet Claudia Rankine earned a BA at Williams College and an MFA at Columbia University. Rankine has published several collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the PEN Center USA Poetry Award, and the Forward poetry prize; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004); and Nothing in Nature is Private (1994), which won the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. Rankine has coedited American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (2002), American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (2007), and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (2014). Her poems have been included in the anthologies Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (2003), Best American Poetry (2001), and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry (1996). Her play Detour/South Bronx premiered in 2009 at New York’s Foundry Theater.

Jose RiveraJose Rivera

Jose Rivera is a recipient of two OBIE Awards for Playwriting — for Marisol and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, both produced at The Joseph Papp Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival.  His screenplay, The Motorcycle Diaries, (directed by Walter Salles) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award, and a Writers Guild Award.  The screenplay received Spain’s Goya Award and Argentina’s top award for screenwriting.  Other honors include the Imagen Foundation’s 2005 Norman Lear Writing Award, a Fulbright Arts Fellowship in Playwriting, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant.