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Blueprints: Bringing Poetry Into Communities

Blueprints: Bringing Poetry Into Communities

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Published by: poetryfoundation on Mar 08, 2011
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Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, teacher, and cur-

rent chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale University.
She has served on the faculty and as a board member and is now honorary
director of Cave Canem, an organization dedicated to the development
and endurance of African American poetic voices. Her poetry collection
American Sublime was a fnalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her sixth book
of poems is Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems, 19902010. Alexander
was selected to compose and read a poem at the presidential inauguration
of Barack Obama in 2009.

Sherwin Bitsui is the author of two poetry books, Shapeshift and Flood

Song. His honors include a Whiting Writers Award, a 2010 PEN Open
Book Award, and an American Book Award. Bitsui is originally from
Baa’oogeedí (White Cone, Arizona) on the Navajo Nation. Currently, he
lives in Tucson. He is Diné of the Todich’íi’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born
for the Tł’ízíłání (Many Goats Clan).

Lee Briccetti is a poet and the executive director of Poets House, a

national poetry library and literary center for poets and the public, which
documents the wealth and diversity of modern poetry and stimulates pub-

296 | Contributors

lic dialogue on issues of poetry in culture. The author of Day Mark, she
has received a New York Foundation for the Arts Award for Poetry and
has been a poetry fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

Alison Hawthorne Deming is a poet, essayist, and professor in cre-

ative writing at the University of Arizona. From 1990 until 2000, she
served as director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center, an interna-
tionally renowned poetry library, where she continues to serve as a mem-
ber of the Development Board. In addition to her works of nonfction and
essays, she is the author of four collections of poetry, including Science and
Other Poems
and, most recently, Rope.

Dana Gioia is a poet, critic, and current director of the Aspen Insti-

tute’s Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts. Under his former leadership
as chairman, the National Endowment for the Arts reached millions of
Americans through grants and arts programs such as Poetry Out Loud, a
poetry recitation contest offered in partnership with the Poetry Founda-
tion that has, in the past fve years, involved over three-quarters of a mil-
lion high school students. His most recent book of poems, Interrogations at
won the American Book Award. His critical collection, Can Poetry
was a fnalist for the National Book Critics Circle award.

Robert Hass served as poet laureate of the United States from 1995 to

1997 and was awarded the 2007 National Book Award and the 2008 Pu-
litzer Prize for Time and Materials: Poems 19972005. In addition to being
a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, he is the
cofounder of River of Words, an organization that champions environ-
mental and arts education, where he continues to serve as a judge, advisor,
and co-chairman of the board. His most recent book is The Apple Trees at
Olema: New and Selected Poems

Bas Kwakman is the managing director of Poetry International Rot-

terdam (the Netherlands), a literary organization working to promote
international exchange among poets, poetry translators, poetry connois-
seurs, and poetry lovers. Poetry International’s projects include its online
poetry magazine, www.poetryinternational.org, which has over twenty
international partners, and the annual Rotterdam Poetry International
Festival. Prior to joining Poetry International, Kwakman was a founder

Contributors | 297

and an editor of Tortuca, a magazine for art and literature, and worked as
an independent visual artist and a poet.

Thomas Lux is a poet who currently holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry

at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also runs the Poetry at
Tech program, one of the premier showcases of poetry in the Southeast,
and serves as director of the McEver Visiting Writers program. The author
of eleven poetry collections, most recently God Particles, and a recipient of
the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, he is also on the MFA faculties of Sarah
Lawrence College and Warren Wilson College.

Christopher Merrill has published four collections of poetry, includ-

ing Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets
Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debel-
jak’s Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes;
and four books of nonfction. His work has been translated into twenty-
fve languages, his journalism appears widely, and for ten years he was
the book critic for the daily radio news program The World. He has held
the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of
the Holy Cross and now directs the International Writing Program at the
University of Iowa.

Luis Rodriguez is a poet, journalist, fction writer, children’s book au-

thor, critic, and author of the memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang
Days in L.A
. He has founded or cofounded numerous community orga-
nizations, including Chicago’s Guild Complex, Youth Struggling for Sur-
vival, Tia Chucha Press, and Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore,
which provides a bookstore, performance space, and workshop center for
its inner city neighborhood and sponsors Celebrating Words: Written,
Performed & Sung, a literacy and performing arts festival.

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, author, and professor

at New York University. Her work exploring American character and
national identity has earned her many awards, including a MacArthur
Fellowship, two Obie Awards, and two Tony nominations. Her play Fires
in the Mirror
was a fnalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is founding director
of Anna Deavere Smith Works, Inc., a center that convenes artists whose
work addresses the world’s most pressing problems.

298 | Contributors

Patricia Smith is an author, performer, playwright, teacher, and four-

time National Poetry Slam champion, the most successful competitor in
slam history. Her ffth book of poetry, Blood Dazzler, was a fnalist for the
2008 National Book Award. In addition to being published in numerous
journals and anthologies, her work can be found in stage productions, on
CD, in an award-winning short flm, and in HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She is
a professor of creative writing at the City University of New York/Col-
lege of Staten Island and a faculty member at both Cave Canem and the
Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.


Susan Boskoff is executive director of the Nevada Arts Council, a divi-

sion of the Department of Cultural Affairs. In partnership with arts orga-
nizations, schools, and communities, the Arts Council actively works to
bring artists, a diversity of art forms, and audiences together in Nevada’s
metropolitan centers and isolated rural towns. Its public programs include
the Nevada Circuit Riders, Nevada Folklife Archives, and the Nevada
Touring Initiative, which includes the Tumblewords Literary Program.
The Council also partners with the National Endowment for the Arts
and the Poetry Foundation on the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation

Katharine Coles is the inaugural director of the Harriet Monroe Po-

etry Institute at the Poetry Foundation. Her most recent collection of
poems, Fault, came out in 2008; she has also published novels and essays
and has collaborated with various visual artists on projects resulting in
both temporary and permanent installations. She is a professor at the Uni-
versity of Utah, where she founded and co-directs the Utah Symposium
in Science and Literature. In 2006, she was named to a fve-year term as
poet laureate of Utah.

Tree Swenson

is the executive director of the Academy of American
Poets, a nonproft organization dedicated to supporting American poets
and fostering appreciation of contemporary poetry through programs
such as Poets.org, National Poetry Month, the Poetry Audio Archive, and
the literary journal American Poet, as well as through its numerous awards
and prizes for poets. Prior to joining the Academy, Swenson served as

Contributors | 299

director of programs for the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was the
cofounder, publisher, and executive director of Copper Canyon Press.

Orlando White is from Tólikan, Arizona. He is Diné of the Naa-

neesht’ézhi Tábaahí and born for the Naakai Diné’e. He holds a BFA from
the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Brown Univer-
sity. White is the author of Bone Light and he teaches at Diné College and
lives in Tsaile, Arizona.

Elizabeth Allen is the project manager for the Harriet Monroe Poetry

Institute and has been with the Poetry Foundation since 2004. She holds
an MA in cultural and educational leadership and policy studies from
Loyola University. Before joining the Poetry Foundation, she served as
executive assistant to Stanley Fish at the College of Liberal Arts and Sci-
ences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and coordinated the Field
Museum of Natural History’s lecture series.

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