Joy Harjo is an acclaimed poet, musician, writer, and performer. Her books of award-winning poetry include her newest Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. Her memoir Crazy Brave won the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction. She is the recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is at work on a musical, an album of music, and a second memoir. She holds a Chair of Excellence in Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Masha Gessen is a Russian-American journalist and the author of several books, including The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. They are the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Carnegie Fellowship, and their work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Slate, Vanity Fair, and many other publications. A longtime resident of Moscow, Gessen now lives in New York.
James English is John Welsh Centennial Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the Penn Humanities Forum and the Price Lab for Digital Humanities. His books include The Global Future of English Studies and The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value, selected as the best academic book of 2005 byNew York magazine.
Woody Holton is an associate professor at the University of Richmond, where he teaches early American history, and his previous book, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia, garnered much praise from the academic community. His work has been included in the Organization of American Historians’ Best American History Essays 2006, and his articles and reviews have appeared in American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Reviews in American History, William and Mary Quarterly, Journal of Southern History, among others.
Before he went into teaching, Holton directed numerous campaigns and was founding director of the environmental advocacy group “Clean Up Congress.” He now lives in Virginia with his wife, Dr. Gretchen Schoel, and their daughter, Beverly.
Diane Ackerman is the author of 24 books of nonfiction and poetry, including the bestsellers A Natural History of the Senses, The Zookeeper’s Wife, and most recently The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, which received the 2015 PEN Henry David Thoreau Award for Nature Writing.
David L. Ulin is the author, most recently, of the novella Labyrinth. His other books include The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. He is the book critic and former book editor of the Los Angeles Times.
Poetry Chair, 2018 – Mary Jo Bang is the author of eight books of poems, including A Doll For Throwing, Louise in Love, The Bride of E, The Last Two Seconds, and Elegy, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her translation of Dante’s Inferno, illustrated by Henrik Drescher, was published by Graywolf Press. She has received a Hodder Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis.
Annette Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and a Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2009). She is the author, among other books, of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (1997) and (with Peter S. Onuf) “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing, 2016).
A. Van Jordan (Chair) is the author of four collections: Rise, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award; M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A; Quantum Lyrics; and The Cineast. Jordan has been awarded a Whiting Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He has taught at a number of institutions including the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the University of Texas at Austin, Rutgers University-Newark where he served as the Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor, and at the University of Michigan, where he currently serves as the Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of English Language & Literature and as Director of the Helen Zell Writers MFA Program. (Photo credit: A. Alvarez)