Maurya Simon’s tenth volume of poetry, The Wilderness: New & Selected Poems, 1980–2016, was recently published by Red Hen Press (2018). Other recent publications include The Raindrop’s Gospel: The Trials of St. Jerome & St. Paula (Elixir Press, 2010), and Questions My Daughter Asked Me, Answers I Never Gave Her (Blackbird Press, 2014). Simon has received an NEA Fellowship in poetry and two awards from the Poetry Society of America, and this fall she will serve her third visiting artist residency at the American Academy in Rome. Simon is currently a Professor of the Graduate Division and a Professor Emerita at the University of California–Riverside, where she taught literature and creative writing for nearly thirty years.
Kathryn Stripling Byer received the 2013 North Carolina Book Award and the 2013 Southern Independent Booksellers Award for Poetry for her most recent collection, Descent (Louisiana State University Press, 2012). A native of south Georgia, she recently completed five years as North Carolina’s first woman poet laureate. Frequently anthologized, her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications ranging from the Atlantic to Appalachian Heritage.
Renouncing the Tower
J. Allyn Rosser’s fourth poetry collection, Mimi’s Trapeze, appeared in 2014 from Pittsburgh University Press. Rosser has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the Ohio Arts Council. She teaches at Ohio University.
Rita Dove, born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio, earned degrees from Miami University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her record of achievement is unprecedented. When in February 2011 she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, she became the first person to have received all three of the country’s highest arts distinctions—the others being the Humanities Medal and a term of service as Poet Laureate (2003–5). She has been a frequent guest of Bill Moyers’ PBS series. In 1987, she received the Pulitzer Prize for her third collection of poems, Thomas and Beulah, which is loosely based on her maternal grandparents’ lives. She also has nine other volumes of poetry: Collected Poems 1974–2004 (2016), Sonata Mulattica (2009), American Smooth (2004), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), Mother Love (1995), Selected Poems (1993), Grace Notes (1989), Museum (1983), and The Yellow House on the Corner (1980). She has published a collection of essays, The Poet’s World (1995); a drama, The Darker Face of the Earth: A Verse Play in Fourteen Scenes (1994); a novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992); and a collection of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985). She has edited two volumes, The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2011) and The Best American Poetry 2000 (2000). From 2004 to 2006, Dove served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia. She holds twenty-five honorary doctorates, is a classically trained musician (viola de gamba), and has done numerous musical collaborations, including Seven for Luck, seven poems by Rita Dove with music by John Williams, and Umoja: Each One of Us Counts, music by Alvin Singleton, commissioned by the Atlanta Olympic Summer Games. Since 1989, she has taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English.