2016 Retreat Faculty
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of two poetry collections: Black Swan (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002), selected by Marilyn Nelson for the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize; and the National Book Award finalist Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), cited by the National Book Foundation as “passionate and personal, innovative and elegant. . . marr[ying] a wildness of vision with a lensmaker’s precision.” In collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander, she published the chapbook Poems in Conversation and a Conversation (Slapering Hol Press, 2008). Van Clief-Stefanon’s work has appeared in such journals as African American Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review and Gulf Coast, as well as several anthologies, including Bum Rush the Page, Common Wealth, and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. Currently at work on a third collection, The Coal Tar Colors, she is a faculty member of Cornell’s Graduate program in English.
Cornelius Eady (see bio below)
Willie Perdomo is the author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; Smoking Lovely, winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award; and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. Additional honors include a Woolrich Fellowship in Creative Writing at Columbia University and a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, BOMB, Mandorla and African Voices. He is currently a member of the VONA/Voices faculty and is an Instructor in English at Phillips Exeter Academy.
Evie Shockley is the author of four collections of poetry—most recently, the new black, winner of the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry—as well as a critical study, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry. Her poetry and essays appear widely in journals and anthologies, recently including Boston Review, pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Art & Culture, Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry, Bone Bouquet, Best American Poetry 2015 and Best American Experimental Writing 2015. Her honors include the 2015 Stephen Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry and the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize. Currently serving as creative editor for Feminist Studies, Shockley is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
Amber Flora Thomas is the recipient of several poetry awards, including the Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize, Richard Peterson Prize and Ann Stanford Prize. She is the author of The Rabbits Could Sing (University of Alaska Press, 2012) and Eye of Water (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), selected by Harryette Mullen for the 2004 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Zyzzyva, Callaloo, Orion Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Literary Review and Crab OrchardReview, among other publications. She is an Assistant Professor of English at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
Kevin Young is the author of eleven books of poetry and prose including Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (Knopf, 2016); Book of Hours (Knopf, 2014), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets; Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (Knopf, 2011); and Dear Darkness (Knopf, 2008). His collection Jelly Roll: a blues (Knopf, 2003) was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. Young’s nonfiction book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf, 2012) won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award; it was also a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. He is the editor of several collections, most recently The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010 (BOA Editions, 2012) and The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012). He is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing & English and curator of Literary Collections & the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.
Toi Derricotte (see bio below)
Major Jackson is the author of four collections of poetry: Roll Deep (2015, Norton); Holding Company (2010, Norton); Hoops (2006, Norton); and Leaving Saturn (2002, University of Georgia Press). Holding Company and Hoops were both selected as finalists for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry; and Leaving Saturn, awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. He has published poems and essays in American Poetry Review, Callaloo, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tin House, and in Best American Poetry. A recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, and a Whiting Writers’ Award, he has been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He lives in South Burlington, Vermont, where he is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at the University of Vermont. He serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review.
Toi Derricotte has published five collections of poetry, most recently, The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011). An earlier collection of poems, Tender, won the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, published by W.W. Norton, won the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her essay “Beds” is included in The Best American Essays 2011, edited by Edwidge Danticat. Recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 2009, her honors include the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement; the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry for a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable presence in American literature; the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America; two Pushcart Prizes; the Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists; the Alumni/Alumnae Award from New York University; the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, Inc.; the Elizabeth Kray Award for service to the field of poetry from Poets House; and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Maryland State Arts Council. She serves on the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors and for many years was Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.
Cornelius Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. He is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Hardheaded Weather (Penguin, 2008). His Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (Ommation Press, 1986), won the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets. He has collaborated with jazz composer Diedre Murray in the production of several works of musical theater, including You Don’t Miss Your Water; Running Man, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999; Fangs, and Brutal Imagination, which received Newsday’s Oppenheimer Award in 2002. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry; a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Traveling Scholarship; a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy; The Prairie Schooner Strousse Award (1994); and the Elizabeth Kray Award for service to the field of poetry from Poets House. He is Professor of English and the Miller Family Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Lucille Clifton, Elder (6/27/1936 – 2/13/2010)
Thomas Sayers Ellis
C. S. Giscombe
Michael S. Harper, Elder (3/18/1938 – 5/7/2016)
Colleen J. McElroy
Marilyn Nelson, Elder
Sonia Sanchez, Elder
Afaa M. Weaver, Elder
Al Young, Elder