2019-2020 Participants

Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander was a Briggs-Copeland Poet at Harvard University before becoming the A.K. Seaver Professor of Literary Arts and Comparative Literature at Brown University, where he taught with his wife, the poet C.D. Wright, for more than twenty years. He lives and works now in Petaluma, California.

Gander’s books of poetry include Be With (2018), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Redstart: An Ecological Poetics (2012), Eye Against Eye (2005), Torn Awake (2001), and Science & Steepleflower (1998). He is also a translator, novelist, essayist, and the editor of several anthologies. His translations of Neruda are collected in Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems (2016), and he is the author of two novels, As a Friend (2008) and The Trace (2015).

Gander’s other awards include the Whiting Writers Award, a Howard Foundation Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and United States Artists. He serves as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Meghan O'Rourke

Meghan O'Rourke

Meghan O’Rourke lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she grew up, and in Marfa, Texas. A graduate of Yale University, she has taught at Princeton, The New School, and New York University. She currently serves as editor of The Yale Review.

O’Rourke began her career as a fiction and nonfiction editor at The New Yorker. She has served as culture editor and literary critic for Slate as well as poetry editor for The Paris Review. She is the author of the poetry collections Sun in Days (2017), a finalist for the Patterson Poetry Prize and a New York Times Best Poetry Book of the year, Once (2011), and Halflife (2007), a finalist for both the Patterson Poetry Prize and Britain’s Forward First Book Prize. In addition, she wrote the bestselling memoir The Long Goodbye (2011).

She is the recipient of numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, the inaugural May Sarton Poetry Prize, the Union League Prize for Poetry from the Poetry Foundation, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and a Front Page Award for her cultural criticism. She also has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and a finalist for the Rome Prize of the Academy of Arts and Letters.

Evie Shockley

Evie Shockley

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Evie Shockley earned a B.A. at Northwestern University, a J.D. at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in English literature at Duke University. She currently serves as professor of English at Rutgers University.

Shockley’s most recent book of poems is semiautomatic (2017), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry. Her other volumes of poetry include the new black (2011), which received the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a half-red sea (2006). She is also the author of the critical volume Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (2011). Shockley’s poetry and essays have been featured widely in journals and anthologies, including The Black Scholar, The Paris Review, Tin House, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future (2019), The New Emily Dickinson Studies (2019), and The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of our Time (2017). She serves as a contributing editor at Boston Review.

Shockley’s honors include the Lannan Literary Award in Poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Cave Canem, MacDowell, ACLS, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library.

Layli Long Soldier

Layli Long Soldier

Layli Long Soldier lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is a visiting writer at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Soldier holds a B.F.A. from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an M.F.A. from Bard College. She is the author of Chromosomory (2010) and WHEREAS (2017). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, the New York Times, The American Poet, The American Reader, The Kenyon Review Online, BOMB, and elsewhere.

She is the recipient of an NACF National Artist Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Whiting Award, and she was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award. Most recently, she received the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Award and the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Lisa Russ Spaar

Lisa Russ Spaar

Lisa Russ Spaar serves as Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

Spaar’s most recent collection of poems is Orexia (2017). Her other books of poetry include Vanitas, Rough (2012), Satin Cash (2008), Blue Venus (2004), and Glass Town (1999). She also is the author of the essay collection The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry (2013) and is the editor of the anthologies Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson (2016), All that Mighty Heart: London Poems (2008), and Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems (1999).

Spaar is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Award, the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and the Library of Virginia Award for Poetry. She was short-listed for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Excellence in Reviewing. She was a 2016 finalist for Baylor’s Cherry Teaching Award and gave the “Virginia Beall Ball Lecture in Contemporary Poetry” at the 2018 Baylor Poetry Festival. She is the inaugural Beall Visiting Poet.