January 2012

James Alan McPherson

In his non-fiction piece “On Becoming an American Writer” (The Atlantic, December 1978), James Alan McPherson provides rich clues about his identity as a black American citizen who is a writer. He grew up “in a lower-class black community in Savannah, Georgia, attended segregated public schools,” and because of the National Defense Student Loan Program, was able to enroll at Morris Brown College where he received his B.A. in 1965. Summers, McPherson worked as a dining car waiter on the Great Northern Railroad.

United States
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Elizabeth McCracken

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of Niagara Falls All Over Again, winner of the PEN/Winship Award, as well as Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry?, a collection of stories. She has received grants and awards from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy in Berlin. She is a graduate of the Writers' Workshop, where she has also taught as a visiting faculty member.

United States
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Robert Lowell

Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV (1917-1977), one of the most praised and influential American poets of the 20th century, was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Boston Brahmin family that included poets Amy Lowell and James Russell Lowell. His mother, Charlotte Winslow, was a descendant of William Samuel Johnson, a signer of the U. S. Constitution. He went to St. Mark's School, a prominent prep school in Southborough, Massachusetts, before attending Harvard College for two years and transferring to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, to study under John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate.

United States
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Philip Levine

Philip Levine (b. January 10, 1928, Detriot, Michigan) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit. He was appointed to serve as the Poet Laureate of the United States for 2011–2012.


United States
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W.P. Kinsella

William Patrick Kinsella (1935) is a Canadian fiction writer who was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Kinsella spent two years in Iowa city while studying creative writing at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop between 1976 and 1978; he received his MFA degree in 1978. He is the author of Shoeless Joe, which was made into the feature film Field of Dreams.

United States
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Donald Justice

“How could anyone take such simple, straightforward subjects, not trying to foist either any explanation of their cause or any high-flown interpretation of their meaning, but trusting simply to one’s own voice and style to give them the reality, the elegance and thrust to make them whole?”

United States
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John Irving

Born in Exeter, New Hampshire, John Irving (1942-) majored in English at the Philips Exeter Academy in his native town, then, attended the University of Vienna in Austria and graduated from the University of New Hampshire (1965). He later enrolled at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop (1965-1967) where he received instruction from Kurt Vonnegut. At Iowa, he developed a Master of Fine Arts thesis that became his first published novel, Setting Free the Bears (1968). Irving taught at the Writers' Workshop from 1972 to 1975.

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W. David Hancock

W. David Hancock (MFA 1990) is a playwright who has received Obie Awards for his plays The Convention of Cartography and The Race of the Ark Tattoo.

W. David
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Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor. She was raised in Rome, Italy and educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.

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Louise Glück

Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1943. She is the author of Averno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry; The Seven Ages (2001); and Vita Nova (1999), winner of Boston Book Review's Bingham Poetry Prize and The New Yorker's Book Award in Poetry.

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