2009 Feature Poets

Feature Poets January through December 2009

December 17, 2009: Marilyn Nelson

Poet Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of twelve books and three chapbooks. Her book The Homeplace won the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award. The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems won the 1998 Poets’ Prize and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, the PEN Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize. Carver: A Life In Poems won the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Fortune’s Bones was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. A Wreath For Emmett Till won the 2005 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and was a 2006 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a 2006 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and a 2006 Lee Bennett HopkinsPoetry Award Honor Book. The Cachoiera Tales And Other Poems won the L.E. Phillabaum Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Nelson’s newest book of poetry, Sweethearts of Rhythm, was released in 2009 from Dial.

Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Nelson is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut; founder and director of Soul Mountain Retreat, a small writers’ colony; and was Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.

November 19, 2009: Claire Zoghb

Claire Zoghb’s first full-length collection, Small House Breathing, won the 2008 Quercus Review annual competition.  A chapbook, Dispatches from Everest, is forthcoming from Pudding House Press.  Her work has appeared in Yankee, Connecticut Review, Connecticut River Review, Caduceus, CALYX, Saranac Review, Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America, Natural Bridge, Quercus Review, in the anthologies Through A Child’s Eyes: Poems and Stories About War and Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems. Twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, Claire was the winner of the 2008 Dogwood annual poetry competition. She is a recipient of two Artist Fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, an Urban Artists Initiative grant, a residency at the Vermont Studio Center, and has earned a certificate from the Amherst Writers and Artists Institute. She lives in New Haven, where she works as a graphic artist and book designer and teaches writing workshops for kids.

October 15, 2009: Kate Rushin

Kate Rushin is the author of The Black Back-Ups (Firebrand Books). Her “The Bridge Poem” appears in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, a ground-breaking feminist anthology edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Recipient of the Rose Low Rome Memorial Poetry Prize and the Grolier Poetry Prize, her work is widely anthologized and has been published in such journals as Callaloo. A Connecticut resident, Kate currently teaches creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

September 17, 2009: Valerie Lawson

Valerie Lawson has won awards for her poetry and performance at the Cambridge Poetry Awards and has been twice nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Dog Watch, her first full-length collection of poems was published in 2007 by Ragged Sky Press. She is currently working on a manuscript of poems about winter in far Downeast Maine. Lawson, along with her partner Michael Brown, co-edits the literary journal Off the Coast

August 20, 2009: Mark McGuire-Schwartz

A host of both the Word of Mouth and Wednesday Night Poetry Series, Mark has published poetry and prose in many journals, including Fairfield Review, RogueScholars, Bent Pin Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Caduceus, Whatever Literary Magazine, and Connecticut Law Journal.  In his many years working as a state bureaucrat, Mark strove to raise the level of memos to an art form.  He is author of a short play, Meeting Arthur Miller, which was produced as part of the Short and NEAT program during the 2004 International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Mark has been called “a poet with a singular talent for weaving the day-to-day conversations and mishaps into a light-hearted view of the human experience.  Unconnected snapshots of daily life are transformed from arcane to insightful under Mark’s skillful hand.” (He has been called other things too, but we choose not to print those things here.)

July 16, 2009: Robin Sampson

Host of Wednesday Night Poetry, a member of the performance poetry troupe, Shijin, Robin is also published in the New Verse News, The Book of Hope, The Company We Keep, The Hat City Free Press, & Bitter Oleander,in Poets Against the War, Wicked Alice, Connecticut River Review, and Bent Pin Quarterly.  Her website ishttp://www.robinesampson.com. She is a Master Wildlife Conservationist,an aspiring novelist, a reader, an inquirer into the gritty, beautiful business of life, nature and geology. Glass-bead jewelry creator, earth-mother,keeper of the hearth, maker of death-by-chocolate deserts, relentless seeker of “ma” (that which is missing). Besides her writing life, shesustains three kids and a husband, Will. View excerpts from her Feature on YouTube.

June: Our annual Favorite Poem Project Reading

May 21, 2009: Janice Tatter

Janice reads from her new chapbook, COMMUNION OF VOICES.   She is receipient of the Alma K. Daughtery Award for excellence in literature.  In 2006, REMEMBERING THE TRUTH was published by Temenos Publishing Company. She’s been published in several journals such as Southern Hum, Red River Review, Poesia, Up the Staircase, Alimentum, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, and many others.  Boston Literary Magazine praised Janice’s “willingness to be vulnerable… and her fascination with the dynamics of those closest to her, from her parents to the family servant, Locke. The poems in Communion of Voices speak of hard-hitting realities like 1950s racism and sexual awareness, all the while treating human frailties with compassion and humor.”

April 16, 2009:  Susan Kinsolving

Susan Kinsolving’s three books of poems are The White Eyelash, Dailies & Rushes, a finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Award, and Among Flowers. Her books have been critically acclaimed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Poetry, Publishers Weekly, Vanity Fair, among others. Her poems have appeared numerous journals and anthologies. Before joining the Core Faculty of The Bennington Writing Seminars, Susan taught poetry at University of Connecticut, Southampton College, Chautauqua Institute, Willard-Cybulski Mens’ Prison, and California Institute of the Arts. As a librettist, her works have been performed by the Glimmerglass Opera and The Baroque Choral Guild in The Netherlands, Italy, New York, and California. She has been awarded poetry fellowships to France, Italy, Scotland, and Switzerland.

March 19, 2009: Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr is Rhode Island’s Poet Laureate, and also an inn-keeper, a mother, and a basketball coach.  She tries to balance her time among a variety of interests, her family, and her passion for poetry. She is a two-time recipient of the R.I. Fellowship for Poetry. In her capacity as Poet Laureate, Starr is generating a statewide poetry pen-pal system which creates and then partners writing circles among student and elderly communities around the state. She has also established poetry circles in hospitals, homeless shelters, the state prison, and agencies for children and adults with severe mental and physical disabilities.  She is the author of three poetry books: Mad With Yellow, This Place Hereand Days of Dogs and Driftwood. Starr is the founder and director of the Block Island Poetry Project, the nationally acclaimed celebration of poetry, the arts and humanity. With the help of husband Champlin, children Orrin (12) and Millie (11), and Brother the Dog, Starr operates the Hygeia House, a 10-room inn on Block Island. When time permits, she writes her heart out.

February 19, 2009: Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar (born 1975) is an American poet.  Raised in Manssas, VA, he is the poet-He was raised in poet-in-residence at  Central Connecticut State University and the founding editor of the online journal of the arts, Drunken Boat. His first book, Instrumentality, was published by Cherry Grove in May 2004, and was a finalist for the 2005 Connecticut Book Awards. He co-wrote Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books, 2006) with Reb Livingston, selections of which were published in Fringe Magazine and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Shankar received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia  where he worked with Gregory Orr, and his master’s degree in poetry from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he studied with Lucie Brock-Broido and Richard Howard.  Shankar’s poetry has been published in such places as The Massachusetts Review, The Cortland Review, and The New Hampshire Review. His critical work has appeared in The Iowa Review, among other publications. He co-edited an anthology of contemporary Arab and Asian poetry, along with poets tina Chang and Nathale Handal, published by Norton in Spring 2008.

January 15, 2009: Alison Moncrief

Alison D. Moncrief has a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and an MFA from New York University. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Caduceus, The Connecticut River Review, and The Paris Review. She is also a contributing poetry editor for the on-line literary journal Drunken Boat. Alison teaches English at Southern Connecticut State University and the Foote School.  The homework assignment for Monday, 1/12/09:  ”Write a one page short story (Really, keep it to one page.) in which your character exhibits or is shaped by some type of theme mentioned in The Tipping Point.”