Critical Distance & The End of the Story
David Wagoner has published nineteen books of poems—most recently After the Point of No Return (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)—and ten novels, including The Escape Artist (1965), which Francis Ford Coppola made into a movie in 1982. Winner of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and many other honors, he was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets for twenty-three years, edited Poetry Northwest from 1966 to 2002, and is professor emeritus of English at the University of Washington. He teaches in the low-residency MFA program of the Whidbey Island Writers Workshop.
Alison Hawthorne Deming’s most recent works include Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit (Milkweed Editions, 2014) and Stairway to Heaven: Poems (Penguin Poets, 2016). “Invasive Beauty” will be included in a forthcoming book, “Lament for the Makers,” supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship. Deming is a Regents’ Professor and holds the Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. She lives in Tucson and on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick.
David Swanger has published four books of poetry, two chapbooks, and poems in various anthologies and journals. His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. His most recent book, Wayne’s College of Beauty (2006), won the John Ciardi Poetry Prize.
What Goes On
Stephen Dunn is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose. His Degrees of Fidelity: Essays on Poetry and the Latitudes of the Personal, is due out from Tiger Bark Press in October 2018, and a new collection of poems, Pagan Virtues, is scheduled to be published by W. W. Norton in 2019. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Different Hours, and he has had fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. Dunn lives in Frostburg, Maryland, with his wife, the writer Barbara Hurd.
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.