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The Poetry and Literature Center’s Interview Series features emerging and established literary writers in dynamic and thought-provoking conversation.

“How Odd it is that Your Brain Follows You”: An Interview with Ada Limón

Ada Limon (Photo by Lucas Marquardt)

Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things (2015), which was named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her new collection, The Carrying, was released by Milkweed Editions in August of 2018 and was named one of the top 5 poetry books of the year by the Washington Post. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program, and the online and summer programs for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo credit: Lucas Marquardt

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“The Borders of Ourselves Along the Contours of Tradition”: An Interview with Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of several poetry and prose collections, including The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife (2009), Hyperboreal (2013), The Straits (2015), and Milk Black Carbon (2017). She is Inupiaq with family from King Island (Ugiuvak) and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. Kane’s awards and honors include the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship, the United States Artists Foundation Creative Vision Award, the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Fellowship, and the Alaska Literary Award. In 2018, she was appointed as the first Native Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

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Celeste Ng

“Memory at its Core”: An Interview with Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng is the author of the New York Times best-selling novels Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere (Penguin). Her writing has been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other honors. Everything I Never Told You was a New York Times Notable Book and Amazon’s No. 1 Best Book of 2014. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, was named a best book of the year by more than 25 publications. Ng earned an MFA from the University of Michigan and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo credit: Kevin Day

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Dorothea Lasky

“The Notion of Life and Art as Constant Performance”: An Interview with Dorothea Lasky

Dorothea Lasky is the author of five books of poetry, including Milk (2018), ROME (2014), Thunderbird (2012), Black Life (2010), and AWE (2007). She is the co-editor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (McSweeney's, 2013) and several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Columbia University's School of the Arts, co-directs Columbia Artist/Teachers, and lives in New York City.

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Jesse Lee Kercheval

“Between Now and Already So”: Translating Uruguay's Idea Vilariño

Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of the poetry collections Cinema Muto, Dog Angel, and the bilingual poetry collection Extranjera/ Stranger. Her translations include Invisible Bridge/ El puente invisible: Selected Poems of Circe Maia. She is also the editor of América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets and Tierra, cielo y agua: antología de poesía medio ambiental = Earth, water and sky: an anthology of environmental poetry. She is the Zona Gale Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin. Photo credit: Dan Fuller

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Juan Gabriel Vásquez

“Novels Arise Out of the Shortcomings of History”: An Interview with Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Juan Gabriel Vásquez was born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1973. He is the author of seven novels, including Los informantes (The Informers), Historia secreta de Costaguana (The Secret History of Costaguana), El ruido de las cosas al caer (The Sound of Things Falling), Las reputaciones (Reputations), and La forma de las ruinas (The Shape of the Ruins). He has also written short stories, essays, a biography, and a weekly column for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador. His books have been published in 27 languages. Vasquez's honors include the Premio Alfaguara de Noveta (Spain), the English PEN award, the International Dublin Award, the Prix Roger Caillois (France), and the Royal Academy Prize (Spain). He has translated major literary works into Spanish, including those of John Dos Passos, E.M. Forster, and Victor Hugo. Vásquez lived in France, Belgium, and Spain for 16 years before returning to Bogotá, where he currently resides.

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Dawn Lundy Martin

“Why Pretend That We Speak a False Language?”: An Interview with Dawn Lundy Martin

Dawn Lundy Martin is the author of four poetry collections, including A Gathering of Matter/A Matter of Gathering (2007), winner of the Cave Canem Prize; DISCIPLINE (2011), selected by Fanny Howe for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (2015), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; and, most recently, Good Stock, Strange Blood (2017). The co-editor of The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism and a member of the Black Took Collective, Martin is a professor in the Department of English and the director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh. Photo credit: Max Freeman

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Heather Christle

“A Seemingly Impossible Combination of Animal and Telephone”: An Interview with Heather Christle

Heather Christle is the author of four books of poetry, including The Difficult Farm (2009); The Trees The Trees (2011), winner of the Believer Poetry Award; What Is Amazing (2012); and, most recently, Heliopause (2015). Her poems have appeared in publications including Boston Review, Gulf Coast, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry. She has taught poetry at UT Austin, Wittenberg University, Antioch College, Sarah Lawrence College, UMass Amherst, and Emory University, where she was the 2009-2011 Poetry Writing Fellow. A native of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, she lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

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Wally Lamb

“Coming to Terms with the Family You Were Given and Finding the Family You Need”: An Interview with Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb is the author of six New York Times best-selling novels: I'll Take You There (2016), We Are Water (2013), Wishin' and Hopin' (2009), The Hour I First Believed (2008), I Know This Much is True (1998), and She's Come Undone (1992) and was twice selected for Oprah's Book Club. Lamb also edited Couldn't Keep It to Myself (2003) and I'll Fly Away (2007), two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for the past 17 years. He has won numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant and the Connecticut Center for the Book's Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Karen An-hwei Lee

“A Votive Flame”: An Interview with Karen An-hwei Lee

Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of Phyla of Joy (2012), Ardor (2008), and In Medias Res (2004), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Lee is also the author of two chapbooks, God's One Hundred Promises (2002) and What the Sea Earns for a Living (2014). Her poetry was honored by a Prairie Schooner Glenna Luschei Award. A book of literary criticism, Anglophone Literatures in the Asian Diaspora: Literary Transnationalism and Translingual Migrations (Cambria 2013), appears in the Cambria Sinophone World Series, and her volume of Song Dynasty translations, Double Radiance: Poetry & Prose by Li Qingzhao, was published in 2018. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, Lee serves in the university administration at Point Loma Nazarene University in Southern California.

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Anne McLean

“We’re Rewriting a Work of Art”: An Interview with Anne McLean

Anne McLean studied history in London, Ontario and literary translation in London, England. After a decade and a half in the UK, she now lives in Toronto, where she translates Latin American and Spanish novels, short stories, memoirs and other writings authors including Héctor Abad, Isabel Allende, Julio Cortázar, Ignacio Martínez de Pisón, and Enrique Vila-Matas. In 2004, her translation of Javier Cercas' Soldiers of Salamis was awarded both the Premio Valle Inclán and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. She was awarded the Cruz de Oficial of the Order of Civil Merit in 2012 in recognition of her contribution to making Spanish literature known to a wider public, and in June 2014 her translation of The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

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Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

“Room Enough to Say What I Mean”: An Interview with Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third poetry collection, and Purchase, a collection of essays. She has written plays and lyrics for The Cherry, an Ithaca arts collective. She was one of ten celebrated poets commissioned to write poems inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series in conjunction with the 2015 exhibit One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works for MoMA. She is an Associate Professor of English at Cornell University.

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Terrance Hayes

“Of Headspace and Fire”: An Interview with Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes is the author of five poetry collections, including How to be Drawn (2015) and Lighthead (2010), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. Among numerous honors, he has received fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Cynthia Levinson

Author Cynthia Levinson on "The 1963 Birmingham Children's March"

Cynthia Y. Levinson is the award-winning author of We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, which received four starred reviews and was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2012, and Watch Out for Flying Kids!: How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community. Levinson worked in education policy and divides her time between Texas and Massachusetts.

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Paisley Rekdel

“Of Perspective and Perception”: An Interview with Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal is the author of five books of poetry, including Imaginary Vessels, Animal Eye, The Invention of the Kaleidoscope, Six Girls Without Pants, and A Crash of Rhinos. She is also the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee, and the hybrid memoir Intimate. Her newest work of nonfiction is a book-length essay, The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam. A new collection of poems, Nightingale, which re-writes many of the myths in Ovid's The Metamorphoses, will be published spring 2019. Rekdal's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Residency, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Utah, and in May 2017 was named Utah's Poet Laureate. Photo credit: Tommy Chandler

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Karen Russell

Karen Russell on the Fantastic World of Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Karen Russell is the author of two short story collections, Vampires in the Lemon Grove and St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves; one novella, Sleep Donation; and one novel, Swamplandia!, which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 2009, she received the 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation, and in 2013 she was named a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” Formerly a writer-in-residence at Bard College and Bryn Mawr College, she is the recipient of the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Berlin Prize and was awarded a fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. Photo credit: Michael Lionstar

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Araceles Girmay

“How do you go about finding the heart?”: Aracelis Girmay on Poetry, Discovery, and Grief

Aracelis Girmay is the author of three poetry collections, including Teeth (2007), Kingdom Animalia (2011), for which she won the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award and which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Black Maria (2016). In 2011 she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Girmay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Jerome Foundation, the Watson Foundation, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. She currently teaches poetry as an assistant professor at Hampshire College. Originally from Santa Ana, California, she splits her time between New York and Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Justin Torres

“The Way You Tell the Story”: Justin Torres on Writing

Justin Torres is the author of the novel We the Animals (2011). His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Granta, Tin House, The Washington Post, Glimmer Train, Flaunt, and other publications, and his non-fiction has appeared in The Guardian and The Advocate. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and a Cullman Center Fellow at The New York Public Library. The National Book Foundation named him one of 2012's 5 Under 35. He has been the recipient of a grant from the National Endownment for the Arts, a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is Assistant Professor of English at UCLA. Photo credit: Gregory Crowley

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Walt Whitman

Poet Joshua Beckman on Walt Whitman and Influence

Joshua Beckman is the author of many books, including The Lives of the Poems and Three Talks (Wave Books, 2018), The Inside of an Apple, Take It, Shake, Your Time Has Come, and two collaborations with Matthew Rohrer: Nice Hat. Thanks. and Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. He is editor-in-chief at Wave Books and has translated numerous works of poetry and prose, including Micrograms, by Jorge Carrera Andrade, 5 Meters of Poems (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010) by Carlos Oquendo de Amat, and Poker (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2008) by Tomaž Šalamun, which was a finalist for the PEN America Poetry in Translation Award. He also co-edited Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners (Wave Books, 2015). Beckman is the recipient of numerous awards, including a NYFA fellowship and a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Seattle and New York.

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