Elizabeth Alexander’s most recent collection of poems, American Sublime, was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize. Her other books of poetry are Antebellum Dream Book, Body of Life, and The Venus Hottentot. Also a scholar of African-American literature and culture, she has published a book of essays, The Black Interior.
Alexander is the inaugural recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize. The $50,000 prize honors an American poet of exceptional talent who has published at least one book of recognized literary merit but has not yet received major national acclaim.
Her short stories and critical prose have been widely published in such periodicals and journals as Signs, The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The Village Voice, The Women’s Review of Books, and The Washington Post, and her poems are widely anthologized.
Among her many honors and awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, the George Kent Award, and the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.” Formerly the Grace Hazard Conkling Poet-in-Residence and first director of the Poetry Center at Smith College, she is currently Professor of African-American Studies at Yale University.
Carl Dennis is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently New and Selected Poems, 1974-2004, and Practical Gods (Penguin, 2001), which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His other books include a collection of essays, Poetry as Persuasion (University of Georgia Press, 2001). He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and in 2000 received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry.
Jane Hirshfield is the author of six collections of poetry, including After (which was shortlisted for England’s T.S. Eliot Prize and also chosen as one of the best books of 2006 by both the Washington Post and the London Financial Times); Given Sugar, Given Salt (finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award), The Lives of the Heart, and The October Palace, as well as a book of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. She also edited and co-translated The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Komachi & Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan, Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, and Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems. Her other honors include The Poetry Center Book Award; fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets; Columbia University’s Translation Center Award; and the Commonwealth Club of California’s Poetry Medal. In 2004,she was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets.
David St. John
David St. John is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently The Face: A Novella in Verse. Other collections include Prism, The Red Leaves of Night, In the Pines: Lost Poems 1972-1997, and Study for the World’s Body: New and Selected Poems, a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, both the Rome Fellowship in Literature and an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the O. B. Hardison Jr. Prize from The Folger Shakespeare Library, and a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation. He is Professor of English at the University of Southern California.
Robert Boswell is the author of seven works of fiction including Century’s Son and Mystery Ride, a cyberpunk novel (Virtual Death), a prize-winning play (Tongues), and a forthcoming book of essays on writing (The Half-Known World). He has received two NEA Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and numerous prizes for his fiction. His stories appear in Esquire, New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, O‚Henry Prize Stories, Pushcart Prize Stories, and in many literary magazines. He teaches at New Mexico State University, the University of Houston, and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program.
Peter Ho Davies
Peter Ho Davies is the author of the novel The Welsh Girl and the story collections The Ugliest House in the World and Equal Love. His work has appeared in Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Paris Review, among others. His short fiction has been widely anthologized, including selections for Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards 1998 and Best American Short Stories 1995, 1996, and 2001. In 2003 Granta magazine named him among its twenty “Best of Young British Novelists.” Davies is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. The Welsh Girl was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, and shortlisted for The British Book Awards “Richard and Judy” Best Read in 2008. The Ugliest House in the World was awarded the John Llewelyn Rhys and PEN/Macmillan Prizes in the UK as well as the H.L. Davis Oregon Book Award in the US. Equal Love was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. Born in Britain to Welsh and Chinese parents, Davies now makes his home in the US. He has taught at the University of Oregon and Emory University and is now on the faculty of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Antonya Nelson is the author of five story collections, including, most recently, Nothing Right, Some Fun, and three novels (Talking in Bed, Nobody’s Girl, and Living to Tell). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and in Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. The New Yorker named her one of the “twenty young fiction writers for the new millennium.” “I scan the tables of contents of magazines, looking for Antonya Nelson’s name, hoping that she has decided to bless us again. She’s absolutely one of my favorites among story writers today, and I envy the reader who has yet to discover her work.” Michael Chabon
ZZ Packer is the author of the story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Story; they have also appeared in Best American Stories 2000 and in the anthology Twenty-five and Under. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe and a Whiting Award. Of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, George Saunders said: “A true cause for celelebration for those of us who feel that fiction exists to crack the world open again and inspire us with new love for it. Funny, fierce, verbally energetic, deeply compassionate — ZZ Packer is a wonderful new writer who somehow manages to indict the species and forgive it all at once.”