Biographical Information for 2006 Poetry Pavilion Participants
Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed poet, critic, educator, and former business executive. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. For fifteen years he supported his writing by working as an executive for General Foods, eventually becoming Vice President of Marketing. Dana Gioia began his term as the ninth chairman in February 2003.
Gioia has published three full-length collections of poetry, as well as eight chapbooks. His poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. An influential critic as well, Gioia's 1991 book Can Poetry Matter?, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, is credited with reinvigorating the role of poetry in contemporary American culture and giving rise to popular poetry movements such as poetry slams and cowboy poetry.
Cyrus Cassells was born in 1957 in Dover, Delaware, and received a B.A. from Stanford University in 1979. He is the author of Beautiful Signor (Copper Canyon Press, 1997), which won the Lambda Literary Award; Soul Make a Path Through Shouting (1994), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Mud Actor (1982), which was a National Poetry Series selection. Cassells has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has worked as a translator, film critic, actor, and teacher. He lives in Austin, Texas and Paris, France.
Judith Ortiz Cofer is a poet, novelist, and essayist whose work has appeared in The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and other journals, as well as in textbooks and anthologies. She is the author of several novels for young adults including The Meaning of Consuelo and Call Me Maria (Scholastic). Her most recent poetry collection is A Love Story Beginning in Spanish: Poems (University of Georgia Press, 2005). She is the recipient of several awards, including the PEN/Martha Albrand Special Citation in nonfiction, the Anisfield Wolf Book award, the first Pura Belpré medal, and the Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. She lives in Athens, Georgia, where she is the Regents' and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.
Dick Davis was born in Portsmouth, England, and was educated at the universities of Cambridge and Manchester. He is currently Professor of Persian at Ohio State University. He lived for eight years in Iran, as well as for periods in Greece and Italy. As author, translator, or editor, he has produced 18 books; besides academic works, he has published translations of prose from Italian and poetry and prose from Persian, and six books of his own poetry. His most recent collection is A Trick of Sunlight.
Maine's state champion for Poetry Out Loud in 2006, Riva Dumont lives in China, Maine and is a graduate of Erskine Academy. She will begin her college career as a Public Relations major at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, with plans to study abroad in England during her junior year. She has aspirations to work in public relations at a publishing house once she graduates. In high school, Riva was involved in the Theatre and the Speech and Debate club and other activities. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream are her favorite literary works.
Chris Estevez was Poetry Out Loud's Pennsylvania state champion for 2006. He hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He will be a junior at West Scranton High School in the fall of 2006 and is involved in many extracurricular activities, including the Drama Club, French Club and the Speech and Debate Club. He is also working to improve arts programs at his high school. His goal is to attend college as a Theatre major. "I like to find different ways to express myself," says Chris. "I feel that you have to strive in all challenging ways to live life."
Donald Hall was named the 14th U.S. Poet Laureate this past June. He began writing as an adolescent and attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of 16--the same year his first book was published. He is the author of more than 21 books of prose and 15 books of poetry, including his most recent, White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Poems 1946-2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Among his many honors and awards are the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Frost Medal, and a Caldecott Medal for one of his children's books. He is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters and has served as Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, where he lives.
Recognized at Poetry Out Loud's 2006 National Champion, Jackson Hille hails from Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Columbus Alternative High School in 2006 and is beginning his collegiate career at Otterbein College in the fall of 2006, where he plans to major in Theatre. Jackson noted that, as hobbies go, he "thoroughly enjoy[s] theatre and four square" and attempts to practice the two daily.
An award-winning poet, translator, and literary critic, Daniel Hoffman has published more than 10 books of poetry. His first collection, An Armada of Thirty Whales (1954), was chosen by W.H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His most recent book is Makes You Stop and Think: Sonnets (George Braziller, 2005). He also is the author of a memoir and several volumes of criticism. He served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (now called the Poet Laureate) from 1973 to 1974. A resident of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, he is the Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kendra Holloway, the 2006 Poetry Out Loud Kentucky state champion, comes from Christian County High School in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where she was born and raised. She will begin her senior year of high school in the fall of 2006. Kendra has aspirations to attend college as a Drama major and a Law minor and eventually become an actress and director. Kendra wants to "share with the world my words and views that anyone can become anything that their heart desires."
Ken Huffman won the 2006 Poetry Out Loud California state championship. Ken was born in Sacramento and currently lives in Elk Grove, California. He graduated from Elk Grove High School in 2006 and was involved in numerous extracurricular activities, including Peer Counseling, Band and Student Council. Ken plans on being a Music major in college. He lists Dr. Seuss and E.E. Cummings among his favorite literary figures.
Mary Karr's three volumes of poetry are Viper Rum (New Directions), The Devil's Tour, and Abacus. Her poems and essays have won Pushcart Prizes and have appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Parnassus. Her memoir, The Liar's Club, was a New York Times bestseller for more than a year and was selected as one of the best books of 1995. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry in 2004 and also was a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College. She is currently the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.
Elise Paschen is the author of Infidelities, winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and Houses: Coasts. Her poems have been published in The New Yorker, The Nation, The New Republic, and Poetry, among other magazines, and in numerous anthologies, including Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native Women's Writings of North America. Former Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America, Paschen is the co-founder of Poetry in Motion, a nationwide program that places poetry posters in subways and buses, reaching more than 13 million people a day with poetry. She also teaches in the Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Born in China, Shuqiao Song, Nebraska's 2006 Poetry Out Loud state champion, currently resides in Lincoln, Nebraska with her family. She begins her senior year of high school in 2006. Shuqiao lists The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude among her favorite books. She plays tennis and the piano, is a member of the National Honor Society, and does volunteer work at a local hospital. As far as future plans go, Shuqiao says she is "considering a medical career or becoming a professor."
Amy Uyematsu grew up in southern California. Her poetry grows out of the conflict between her wish to belong to the culture around her and her strong sense of ethnic identity--like many Japanese Americans during World War II, her parents and grandparents were interned. A high school math teacher, she has published three collections including Stone Bow Prayer (Copper Canyon Press, 2005).
Born in Siberia near Lake Baikal, Yevgeny Yevtushenko is Russia’s best-known living poet. He published his first poem in 1949. Besides his poetry he has written essays and novels, and his writing has been translated into more than 70 languages. He also is a photographer. He has visited more than 90 countries and is the recipient of many honors, included the highest decoration in Russia, Great Achievements for the Motherland (2004). This year he was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Medal from the Danish Raoul Wallenberg Society for his achievement in literature and the arts, particularly his poem Babi Yar. Mr. Yevtushenko lives with his family in Tulsa and serves as a consultant in poetry and film at the University of Tulsa.
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