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Jehanne Dubrow Interview

“My poems were asserting that the military spouse has a right to speak and that her contact with war, while different from the soldier’s experiences in battle, may be equally intense, immersive, and life-changing. She too can write what we label as ‘war poems.'”

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of nine books of poetry, including most recently, Wild Kingdom (LSU Press, 2021), as well as a book of creative nonfiction, throughsmoke: an essay in notes (New Rivers Press, 2019). Her previous poetry collections are Simple Machines, American Samizdat, Dots & Dashes, The Arranged Marriage, Red Army Red, Stateside, From the Fever-World, and The Hardship Post. She has co-edited two anthologies, The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume and Still Life with Poem: Contemporary Natures Mortes in Verse. Her poems, essays, and book reviews have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Poetry, Southern Review, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and The New England Review. Her work has been featured by American Life in Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, The Slowdown, Fresh Air, The Academy of American Poets, as well as on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. She is the founding editor of the national literary journal, Cherry Tree.

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J.D. McClatchy

“Poems clarify or surprise, move or excite, perplex or explain. At their best, they deepen our understanding of human life and reconcile us to the terms of human fate. But music… well, music thrills and transports us, leads us to abandon thought in favor of more primal instincts and pleasures.”

J.D. McClatchy, who died in 2018, was the editor of The Yale Review and the author of many distinguished books of poetry, including Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), Mercury Dressing (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), and Hazmat (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002), which was nominated for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. He also published three collections of essays: American Writers at Home (Library of America/The Vendome Press, 2004), Twenty Questions (Columbia University Press, 1998), and White Paper (Columbia University Press, 1989); edited over twenty books, including W. S. Merwin: Collected Poems (Library of America, 2013), Thornton Wilder: The Eighth Day, Theophilus North, and Autobiographical Writings (Library of America, 2009), James Merrill’s Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Selected Poems (Library of America, 2003); and edited the “Voice of the Poet” audiobook series for Random House. A prominent figure in the world of opera, he wrote opera libretti for such composers as William Schuman, Bruce Saylor, Ned Rorem, Lorin Maazel, Elliot Goldenthal, Tobias Picker, and Michael Dellaira, performed in opera houses around the world.

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Rick Barot

“I do feel that the poem ought to be able to exist separately from the artwork that inspired it. The artwork should be like the muse—present and absent at the same time.”

Rick Barot has published three books of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002), which received the Kathryn A. Morton Prize; Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize; and Chord (2015), which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and received the 2016 UNT Rilke Prize, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award. His fourth book of poems, The Galleons, was published by Milkweed Editions in 2020.  The Galleons was listed on the top ten poetry books for 2020 by the New York Public Library, was a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Book Awards, and was on the longlist for the National Book Award. Also in 2020, his chapbook During the Pandemic was published by Albion Books. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer in Poetry. In 2020, Barot received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and teaches at Pacific Lutheran University.  He is also the director of The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at PLU.

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Ocean Vuong

“We are all writing towards and against dominant histories, whether consciously or not. “

Ocean Vuong is the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, out from Penguin Press (2019) and forthcoming in 30 languages. A recipient of a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, he is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize. Born in Saigon, Vietnam and raised in Hartford, Connecticut in a working class family of nail salon and factory laborers, he was educated at nearby Manchester Community College before transferring to Pace University to study International Marketing. Without completing his first term, he dropped out of Business school and enrolled at Brooklyn College, where he graduated with a BA in Nineteenth Century American Literature. He subsequently received his MFA in Poetry from NYU. He currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts where he serves as an Associate Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at UMass-Amherst.

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Solmaz Sharif

SHARIF FINAL“When it comes to the language of the powerful, I have zero qualms in reclaiming maimed language. My goal there is to disrupt and instigate. It is my responsibility to do so, in fact.”

Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Boston ReviewWitness, and others. The former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, her work has been recognized with  a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, scholarships from NYU and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a winter fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an NEA fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship. She has most recently been selected to receive a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award as well as a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. She is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. Her first poetry collection, LOOK, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2016.

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Tyehimba Jess

JESS FINAL“I believe I have the ownership to write about anything that I want.  However, I also have the obligation to write about it with compassion, nuance, intelligence, and to try my best to write at the highest standards of those who practice the craft.”

Tyehimba Jess is the author of Leadbelly and OlioLeadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.” Olio, published in 2016, has been called “Encyclopedic, ingenious, and abundant…” by Publisher’s Weekly‘s starred review, and a “daring collection, which blends forthright, musically acute language with portraiture” by Library Journal.

Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000 – 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference. Jess is Poetry and Fiction Editor of African American Review, faculty at Pacific University MFA program, and Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island.

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Phillip B. Williams

PHILLIP FINAL“…witness for me is the audacity to live and write during these times where my having breath frightens people”

Phillip B. Williams is a Chicago, Illinois native. He is the author of Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016). He’s also co-authored a book of poems and conversations called Prime (Sibling Rivalry Press). He is a Cave Canem graduate and received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Anti-, Callaloo, Kenyon Review Online, Poetry, The Southern Review, West Branch and others. Phillip received his MFA in Writing from the Washington University in St. Louis. He is the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry.

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Tarfia Faizullah

TARFIA FINAL“I was a shy child who saw early that there are, and have always been, many worlds inside this one.”

Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah grew up in Midland, Texas. She earned an MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University program in creative writing. Her first book, Seam (2014), won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Focused around a long sequence “Interview with a Birangona,” the book explores the ethics of interviewing as well as the history of the birangona, Bangladeshi women raped by Pakistani soldiers during the Liberation War of 1971. Faizullah received a Fulbright award to travel to Bangladesh and interview the birangona.

Faizullah’s honors and awards include an Associated Writers Program Intro Journals Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, a Copper Nickel Poetry Prize, a Ploughshares’ Cohen Award, and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Margaret Bridgman Scholarship in Poetry. She is the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor of Poetry in the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. She co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press and Video Series with Jamaal May, and lives in Detroit, MI.

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David Yezzi

DavidYezzi final“The question for me is not ‘What is the poem about?’ but, rather, ‘Can you dance to it?'”

David Yezzi is the author of The Hidden Model (TriQuarterly, 2003); Azores (Swallow, 2008), a Slate magazine book of the year; and Birds of the Air (2013), a Publishers Weekly pick. He is the editor of The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets (2009).

His libretto for a chamber opera by David Conte, Firebird Motel, received its premiere in San Francisco in 2003 and was released on CD from Arsis in 2007. His libretto of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon for composer Cyril Deaconoff received a workshop production at West Bay Opera in California in 2010. And his verse dramas On the Rocks and Dirty Dan & Other Travesties have been produced by Verse Theater Manhattan. As an actor and co-founder of Thick Description, a San Francisco theater company, Mr. Yezzi has performed in works by Shakespeare, Shaw, Brecht, Goethe, Williams, and others, in the United States and Europe.

A former director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, he is poetry editor of The New Criterion and an editor of The Hopkins Review. A Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 1998 to 2000, his poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Best American Poetry, The Yale Review, Poetry, The Pushcart Anthology, and elsewhere. He teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins.

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Jamaal May

JM FINAL“The secret to being a good reader is to avoid performing.”

Jamaal May is the author Hum (Alice James Books, 2013) and The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books, 2016). His first collection received a Lannan Foundation Grant, American Library Association’s Notable Book Award, and was named a finalist for the Tufts Discovery Award and an NAACP Image Award. Jamaal’s other honors include a Spirit of Detroit Award, the Wood Prize from Poetry, an Indiana Review Prize, and fellowships from The Stadler Center, The Kenyon Review, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy. Jamaal May’s poetry explores the tension between opposites to render a sonically rich argument for the interconnectivity of people, worlds, and ideas. He co-directs OW! Arts with Tarfia Faizullah.

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C. Dale Young

c-dale-young final“In life, there is mystery. The mysteries are no more profound in medicine than in poetry. I question, and I doubt, and I think. I have been that way my entire life.”

C. Dale Young is the author of four collections of poetry, including Torn (Four Way Books 2011) and The Halo, forthcoming from Four Way Books in early 2016. His linked short story collection The Affliction is due out from Four Way Books in 2018. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, he practice medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. He lives in San Francisco.

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Emilia Phillips

emilia final“In my poems, that’s exactly what I want to create: a land on which to walk and a body to do the walking.”

Emilia Phillips is the author of two poetry collections from the University of Akron Press, Signaletics (2013) and Groundspeed (2016), and three chapbooks, most recently Beneath the Ice Fish Like Souls Look Alike (Bull City Press, 2015). She’s received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, U.S. Poets in Mexico, and Vermont Studio Center. Her poetry and lyric essays appear in Agni, Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Centenary College of New Jersey. For more information, visit her website at

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Jericho Brown

jericho_5 cropped“Writing poetry has probably been the best teacher for me learning to pray.”

Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts.   His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry.  His first book, Please, won the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Thom Gunn Award, and it was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets.  He is an associate professor in English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta.

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Malachi Black

Malachi Black“Poems and prayers both endeavor…to celebrate, investigate, mourn, or heal the mystery of existence.”

Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), a Lannan Literary Selection, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and a selection for the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets Series.  Black’s poems have appeared in AGNI, The American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, The Iowa Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review, among other journals, and in several recent and forthcoming anthologies, including Before the Door of God (Yale UP, 2013); Discoveries: New Writing from The Iowa Review (Iowa Review, 2012); and The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear Publishing [U.K.], 2016).  The recipient of a 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship (awarded by the Poetry Foundation in conjunction with Poetry magazine), Black has since received fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Emory University, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the University of Utah, and Yaddo.  Black was the subject of an Emerging Poet profile by Mark Jarman in American Poets: The Journal of the Academy of American Poets, and his work has several times been set to music and has been featured in exhibitions both in the U.S. and abroad.  He is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of San Diego and lives in California.

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Carl Phillips

carl cropped“I’ve always thought of them, of the poems, as being very private investigations and negotiations of a space that I can’t quite figure out—they’re where I wrestle with what I both resist and am drawn to.”

Carl Phillips is the author of thirteen books of poems, most recently Reconnaissance (FSG, 2015) and Silverchest (FSG, 2013). Phillips has also published two books of prose, The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination, and Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry; and he is the translator of Sophocles’s Philoctetes. His awards include the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the judge for the Yale Younger Poets Series, Phillips is Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Kim Addonizio

lin tan 2.6mb copy“We write poems to woo those we love (including those we’ll never meet…)”

Kim Addonizio was born in Washington, DC. She attended college there and in San Francisco, where she earned a BA and MA from San Francisco State University.  She divides her time between Oakland, California and New York City. She is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently My Black Angel: Blues Poems and Portraits, with woodcuts by Charles D. Jones (SFA Press, 2015), and Mortal Trash (W.W. Norton, 2016). Her collection Tell Me was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also published two novels, two books of stories, an anthology on tattoos, and (with Susan Browne) a word/music CD. A new blues and word CD, My Black Angel, was released in 2015. With Dorianne Laux, she wrote The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. Her latest book on writing is Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within.  Wild Nights, a New & Selected from the UK’s Bloodaxe Books, was published in 2015, and a memoir, Bukowski in a Sundress, is due from Viking/Penguin in 2016. Her awards include two NEA fellowships, a Guggenheim fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes. She teaches private workshops and volunteers for The Hunger Project, a global organization dedicated to empowering people to end their own hunger. Visit her online at

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A.E. Stallings

stallings4“Rhyme doesn’t bite. Ignore anyone who tells you rhyme (or meter or sonnets etc.) is against the rules.”

A.E. Stallings is an American poet who studied Classics at the University of Georgia and Oxford.  She has published three collections of poetry, Archaic Smile, Hapax, and Olives, and a verse translation (in rhyming fourteeners!) of Lucretius, The Nature of Things. She has received a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from United States Artists, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.  She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She speaks and lectures widely on a variety of topics, and has been a regular faculty member at the West Chester Poetry Conference and the Sewanee Summer Writers’ Conference. Having studied in Athens, Georgia, she now lives in Athens, Greece, with her husband, the journalist, John Psaropoulos, and their two argonauts, Jason and Atalanta.

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Erica Dawson

Dawson 2“Playing with sound like that keeps a poem on its toes. But, for me, it can’t only be about sound. You have to have something to listen to; but, you’ve got to have something to see and sense, and something to care about and follow.”

Erica Dawson is the author of two collections of poetry: Big-Eyed Afraid and The Small Blades Hurt. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Birmingham Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She’s an assistant professor of English and Writing at the University of Tampa, where she serves as Director of the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing.

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Rickey Laurentiis

RL“The irony is that, at least for me, it’s only distance that grants the clarity necessary to be able to write about any given thing.”

Rickey Laurentiis was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the author of Boy with Thorn, selected by Terrance Hayes for the 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) and is the recipient of many other honors, including a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation as well as fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy, the National Endowment for the Arts and Washington University in St Louis. His poems appear in Poetry, New England Review, The New Republic, Kenyon Review and Boston Review, among other journals and magazines. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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Maurice Manning

manning$maurice_hres“I simply want to make the claim that the mind is formed by the shape of the land, by the sheer geography of the mind’s physical location.  And the shape of the mind, under the influence of the land, will yield a particular kind of poem with a particular kind of expression.”

Maurice Manning is the author of five books of poetry, including The Gone and the Going Away (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). His fourth book, The Common Man (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. His first book, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions (Yale University Press, 2001), was selected by W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Manning’s other books include A Companion for Owls (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004) and Bucolics (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007). He has held fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and The Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers in Scotland. In 2009, Manning was awarded the Hanes Poetry Prize by The Fellowship of Southern Writers. In 2011, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2012 he received the Lee Smith Award from Lincoln Memorial University. Manning teaches at Transylvania University and in the MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Kentucky.

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Mary Jo Salter

MARY JO SALTER by Michael Malyszko 2013

“To me, writing is nothing but risk. I don’t want to glamorize it, but every move a poet makes, syllable by syllable, entails a risk.”

Mary Jo Salter is the author of eight books of poetry, all published by Alfred A. Knopf, most recently The Surveyors (2017), Nothing by Design (2013), and A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems(2008). She is also a lyricist whose song cycle “Rooms of Light: The Life of Photographs” was composed by Fred Hersch.  Her children’s book The Moon Comes Home appeared in 1989; her play Falling Bodies premiered in 2004. She is also a co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry (4th edition, 1996; 5th edition, 2005; 6th edition, 2018). Her essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, The Yale Review, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. Salter taught at Mount Holyoke College for 23 years and is currently Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

(Photo © Michael Malyszko 2013)

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