Nick Basbanes is the author of nine works of cultural history, with a particular emphasis on various aspects of books and book culture. His first, A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, was a finalist in 1995 for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His most recent, On Paper: The Everything of Its Two Thousand Year History (Alfred A. Knopf), the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowship in 2008. was named a Best Book of the Year for 2013 by the American Library Association, Kirkus Reviews, Bloomberg News, Mother Jones, and the National Post of Canada. His other books include: Patience & Fortitude; Among the Gently Mad; A Splendor of Letters; Every Book Its Reader; Editions & Impressions; A World of Letters, and About the Author.
Robert Casper is head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. The founding publisher of the literary magazine jubilat, he has worked as the membership director at the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses and as programs director at the Poetry Society of America. He has also served as the poetry chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council.
Michael W. Clune is a professor of English at Case Western Reserve University. His books include White Out, Writing Against Time, and American Literature and the Free Market. His essays have appeared in Granta, Salon, PMLA, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and elsewhere.
John is a librarian and historian who has dedicated his career to forwarding the role of the Library of Congress in American society and culture. He is the founding director of the Center for the Book, which was established in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy, and libraries. The center has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Washington in Seattle, an MLA from The Johns Hopkins University and earned his Ph.D in American Civilization at The George Washington University.
Patrick Coleman has been the curator of books at the Minnesota Historical Society for the last three decades. In that curatorial position he has been responsible for adding approximately 100,000 volumes to the library, making it the premier place for scholarship on all Minnesota topics.
Coleman writes and lectures on topics related to Minnesota’s culture and history. He served as the president of the Library of Congress’s Minnesota Center for the Book, presided over the Minnesota Book Awards, is on the boards of Coffee House Press and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and received the Kay Sexton Award in 2009 for his contributions to Minnesota’s community of the book.
Billy Collins was appointed as the Library of Congress’ Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry on June 21, 2001, a position he held through 2003. He was also the New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. Billy is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College (City University of New York).
De Simone is the the Eric Weinmann Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Previously he served as Curator of the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection of The Library of Congress, since January 2000. Before joining the LOC he ran his own rare book company in NYC. His award-winning exhibition and catalogue of the illustrated book in the hand press period, A Heavenly Craft: the Woodcut in Early Printed Books, features 84 treasures from the Rosenwald collection. He received his B. A. from Clark University, Worcester, MA. and a M. A. from the University of Dayton.
Since 1992, Dunlap has been President of the American Antiquarian Society, a national research library of American history in Worcester, MA. Previously she was director of the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia and research librarian at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Long active in national organizations, she has been chair of the Independent Research Libraries Association and a member of the board of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.
Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, Granta, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized. Stuart is the recipient of a MacArthur Prize, and numerous literary awards. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University and a member of the permanent faculty for Western Michigan University’s Prague Summer Program.
Fenza became Executive Director of Association of Writers and Writing Programs in 1995. He has taught creative writing, literature, and composition at Johns Hopkins University, Old Dominion University, Essex Community College, and Goucher College, and he has served as editor for numerous literary magazines. He is the author of a book-length poem, The Interlude. A graduate of the writing programs at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Iowa, he earned his Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Figman is Executive Director of Poets & Writers. Before that he taught in Massachusetts and Brooklyn. He is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and he has published his work in Pequod, Poetry, TriQuarterly, and other literary journals. His book of Poetry, Big Spring, was published by Four Way Books in 2003. Figman was educated at Oberlin College and the University of Massachusetts.
Ed Folsom is the Roy J. Carver Professor of English at The University of Iowa, where he has taught since 1976 and served as chair of the Department of English. He is an expert on Walt Whitman. He is the recipient of five grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is currently writing a biography of Leaves of Grass, for which he received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.
Folsom’s work has been featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, and What’s the Word?, CBS Sunday Morning, and in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. He is featured in the one-hour PBS American Experience film on Whitman telecast in 2008.
Mia Funk’s exhibition of interviews and portraits of leading authors will be travelling to museums and universities around the world, beginning with the Sorbonne in March 2016. She has received many awards and nominations, including a Prix de Peinture (Salon d’Automne de Paris), Her paintings have been shown at the Grand Palais in Paris and are held in several public collections, including the U.S. Library of Congress and Dublin Writers Museum. Her writing and artwork regularly appear in a number of magazines and newspapers. She is currently working on a large group portrait for the American Writers Museum.
Reginald Gibbons is a poet, fiction writer, translator, critic, former editor (1981-1997) of TriQuarterly magazine. He is Professor of English, of Classics, and of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University (1981- ); currently Director of the Center for the Writing Arts (2006- ); and Co-Director, MA/MFA in Creative Writing (2003- ). Also member of core faculty, MFA Program for Writers (low-residency), Warren Wilson College (1989- ). AB Princeton 1969 in Spanish (Phi Beta Kappa; magna cum laude), MA Stanford 1971 in English and Creative writing, PhD Stanford 1974 in Comparative Literature.
Nikki Giovanni is a Virginia-based poet. She is a Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she has been teaching since 1987. In addition to receiving several NAACP Image Awards, Nikki was a finalist for the 1973 National Book Award and a 2004 Grammy nominee.
Daniel Greene is adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University and guest curator of “Americans and the Holocaust,” an exhibition opening in 2018 at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. His book, The Jewish Origins of Cultural Pluralism: The Menorah Association and American Diversity (University of Indiana Press, 2011), won the American Jewish Historical Society’s Saul Viener Prize in American Jewish history, 2011-12. He is the co-editor of Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North (University of Chicago Press, 2013), a book accompanying a collaborative exhibition between the Newberry Library and Terra Foundation for American Art. Greene is former Vice President for Research and Academic Programs and former Director of the Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at the Newberry Library in Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago.
Kipen is the author of The Schreiber Theory: A Radical Rewrite of American Film History, and translator of Cervantes’ The Dialogue of the Dogs. Until January 2010, Kipen was the Literature Director of the National Endowment of the Arts, where he directed the Big Read and the Guadalajara Book Festival initiatives. He also served from 1998 to 2005 as book critic, and before that book editor, for the San Francisco Chronicle. Mr. Kipen graduated from Yale University.
Jeffrey Lependorf serves as the shared executive director of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) and Small Press Distribution (SPD), two organizations serving the community of independent literary publishers. He formerly served as development director to the Creative Capital Foundation, Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project, and the Poetry Society of America. An active composer of opera and other music, and a “certified master player” of the shakuhachi (traditional Japanese bamboo flute), his “Masterpieces of Western Music” audio course is available through Barnes & Noble’s Portable Professor series downloaded through audible.com.
Haki R. Madhubuti—a publisher, editor, and educator—has been a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition. He has published more than 28 books is one of the world’s best-selling authors of poetry and non-fiction. He is the founder of Third World Press and has also cofounded and developed numerous other Chicago educational institutes. Additionally, he has held faculty positions at Columbia College of Chicago, Cornell University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Howard University, Morgan State University, and the University of Iowa. Dr. Madhubuti is also an award-winning poet and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award and others.
Alice McDermott is the author of several novels, including Charming Billy, for which she was awarded the 1998 National Book Award. Several of her novels have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. She is currently a professor at Johns Hopkins University.
Nancy Miller is Editorial Director of Bloomsbury Publishing in New York, where her authors include three-time National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), James Beard Award-winner Mark Kurlansky, and Donna Seaman, among others. She began her publishing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and has held positions as Senior Vice President, Executive Editor at Random House; Editor-in-Chief at Ballantine; and Director, Washington Square Press. She has served as Chairwoman of the Freedom-to-Read Committee of the Association of American Publishers and has been a member of the Women’s Media Group.
Quinn is the director of the Poetry Society of America and a professor of poetry at the Graduate School of the Arts at Columbia University, New York. She was the Poetry Editor of The New Yorker for 20 years. Before joining the magazine she worked as an editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishers, where she edited the Knopf Poetry Series, as well as works of fiction by Ann Arensberg, Steven Millhauser and Celia Gittelson; and works of non-fiction, including Ann Douglas’s “The Feminization of American Culture.”
Mary Rasenberger is the Executive Director of the Authors Guild and Managing Director of the Authors Registry. Prior to joining the Guild in November 2014, Mary practiced law for over 25 years in the areas of intellectual property, media and technology, with special expertise in copyright law. Most recently, Mary was a partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard where she counseled publishing, media, entertainment, internet, and other technology companies, as well as authors and artists in all areas of copyright and related rights, including licensing, litigation, infringement analysis, policy, enforcement and digital rights. From 2002 to 2008 Mary worked for the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress as senior policy advisor and program director for the National Digital Preservation Program. Mary has worked at other major New York law firms and for a major record company.
Rudin is the publisher of The Library of America, a nonprofit publisher whose mission is to foster greater appreciation and pride in America’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, authoritative editions of America’s best and most significant writing. Mr. Rudin writes on American history, literature, music, and popular culture for American Heritage and Raritan magazines. He created, hosts, and introduces the ongoing program of readings “Great New York Writers in Great New York Places.” He has directed several NEH-funded publishing and national public programming initiatives, among them the Isaac Bashevis Singer Centennial (2004) and Lincoln in American Memory: Exploring the Life and Legacy of Our Sixteenth President (2009). He serves on the Board of Directors of The Great Books Foundation and The New York Festival of Song. Mr. Rudin holds degrees in English and American literature from Princeton University and Columbia University.
Donna Seaman is a Senior Editor for Booklist, a freelance reviewer, and essayist. The recipient of Illinois Arts Council grants, Seaman has received the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism, the Writer Magazine Writers Who Make a Difference Award, several Pushcart Prize special mentions, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, and Literacy Chicago’s Literacy Hero Award, in recognition of all that she does to encourage reading. The National Book Critics Circle named Donna Seaman as a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Seaman is the creator of the anthology In Our Nature: Stories of Wildness, and her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books. Seaman has taught and lectured at the University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and Northwestern University.
Werner Sollors teaches African American Studies and English at Harvard. Co-editor with Greil Marcus of A New Literary History of America (Harvard UP, 2009), his major publications include Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Literature and Culture (1986), Neither Black nor White yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature (1997), and Ethnic Modernism (2008). He is currently at work on a book tentatively entitled “Tales from the 1940s.”
Steele has been, since 2009, the Brooke Russell Astor Director of Collections Strategy at the New York Public Library, where she oversees numerous special collections and archives (including those in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the Library for the Performing Arts, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), as well as circulating collections in 90 locations. Prior to joining the New York Public Library, Victoria Steele headed the UCLA Library’s Department of Special Collections—one of the country’s largest repositories of rare books, manuscripts, and historic photographs—and directed the Center for Primary Research and Training. Co-author of an award-winning book on library development, she has also written numerous articles about special collections. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History, and has been a Fulbright Fellow to the United Kingdom.
Robert B. Stepto has been a member of the Yale faculty in African American Studies, American Studies and English since 1974. His principal fields are American and African American autobiography, fiction, poetry and visual arts since 1840. His publications include A Home Elsewhere: Reading African American Classics in the Age of Obama, Blue As the Lake: A Personal Geography, and From Behind the Veil: A Study of Afro-American Narrative. His editing projects include (with Jennifer Greeson) the Norton Critical Edition of Charles Chesnutt’s Conjure Stories, (with Michael Harper) Chant of Saints: Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship, (with Dexter Fisher) Afro-American Literature: The Reconstruction of Instruction, and (with Donald McQuade et al) The Harper American Literature anthologies. He has been an editorial board member at American Literature, American Quarterly and Callaloo. For 22 summers, he has taught at the Bread Loaf School of English, where he has been the Robert Frost Professor of English and an Interim Director of the School. Among his recent honors are invitations to deliver W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard, an Abernathy Lecture (Middlebury) and a Rushton Lecture (Virginia). At Yale, he has contributed to the conferences on Middle Passage, John Brown, African American History and Memory, and “Embodied: Black Identities in American Art.” His service to African American Studies includes being Chair (2005-2008), and the first Director of Graduate Studies (1978-1981).
Tree Swenson is the former President/Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, which sponsors National Poetry Month and presents the Poets.org website, among many other programs. Swenson’s background in the literary arts includes 20 years as Publisher and Executive Director of Copper Canyon Press, a literary press focusing on poetry, which she co-founded in 1972. Swenson also served for 5 years as Director of Programs for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, where she oversaw grants in all arts disciplines for organizations, artists, schools, and communities. Swenson attended the University of California at Santa Barbara and holds a Masters of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School at Harvard.
Tomassi is Executive Director of The Center for Fiction, the only literary non-profit in the country solely devoted to the art of fiction. She joined the Center in 2004 when it operated as The Mercantile Library and spearheaded its transition to and rebranding as the Center for Fiction. The Center presents over 100 events a year in New York City and is home to a sky lit writers’ studio, an independent bookshop, and an unparalleled circulating collection of fiction. Tomassi’s books include Money for International Exchange in the Arts and American Visions/Visiones de las Americas and she was a contributor to America’s Membership Libraries. She was a co-creator of What of the Night, a theater piece on the life and work of Djuna Barnes, produced by MCC Theater in New York in 2005. She earned her BA at Skidmore College.
Scott Turow is a Chicago-based novelist, essayist, and attorney. His works include Burden of Proof, Presumed Innocent, and Personal Injuries. Scott’s essays and op-ed pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.
Wasserman is a partner at literary agency Kneerim & Williams in its New York office. He is a former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Before joining the newspaper, Steve was for six years the editorial director of Times Books. Before joining Times Books, Steve was publisher and editorial director of Hill and Wang. Steve also headed FSG’s Noonday Press, the firm’s trade paperback imprint, overseeing both nonfiction and fiction titles. Steve is also a former editor in chief of New Republic Books, a subsidiary of New Republic magazine and a co-publishing venture with Basic Books. From 1978 through 1983, Steve was assistant editor of the Op-Ed Page and Sunday Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times. Steve is a founder and co-director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California and has taught advanced nonfiction writing at USC’s Professional Writing Program. He has also taught cultural criticism at the Graduate School of Journalism of the University of California, Berkeley. In 2002, Steve chaired the nominating jury for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction; in 2004, he was a member of the nominating jury for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. He also served for nearly a decade on the jury for the annual literary prizes awarded by the Commonwealth Club of California. He is currently a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and has been an adjunct professor in NYU’s Department of Cultural Reporting and Journalism. He holds an A.B. in criminology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Stephen Young began as an assistant at Poetry in 1988 and served as Senior Editor for many years before he became Program Director at the Poetry Foundation in 2003. He received an Everett Helm Fellowship for work on Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters, co-edited with Joseph Parisi and published in the Fall of 2002 by W. W. Norton. With Joseph Parisi, he also co-edited The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002 (Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2002) and Between the Lines: A History of Poetry in Letters 1962-2002 (Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2006). As Program Director, among other things, he runs the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest for high school students.