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)
Laura McNeal holds an MA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and is the author of Dark Water, a 2010 Finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and You Can’t Leave Me Now: Three Stories of True Crime. She and her husband Tom McNeal are the authors of Crooked, Zipped, Crushed, and The Decoding of Lana Morris. Her forthcoming novel, The Incident on the Bridge, was published by Knopf in 2016.
Tor Seidler is the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of more than a dozen children’s books, including Firstborn, The Wainscott Weasel, A Rat’s Tale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Gully’s Travels, and most notably Mean Margaret, which was a National Book Award Finalist. He lives in New York, New York.
Cornelius Eady is the author of eight books of poetry, including Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems. His second book, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, won the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1985; in 2001 Brutal Imagination was a Finalist for the National Book Award. His work in theater includes the libretto for an opera, “Running Man,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999. His play, “Brutal Imagination,” won Newsday’s Oppenheimer award in 2002.
In 1996 Eady co-founded, with writer Toi Derricotte, the Cave Canem summer workshop/retreat for African American poets. More than a decade later, Cave Canem is a thriving national network of black poets, as well as an institution offering regional workshops, readings, a first book prize, and the summer retreat.
Eady has been a teacher for more than twenty years and is now a professor at Notre Dame University.