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Launched in 2013, “The Life of a Poet” is a series of in-depth discussions about a select poet’s life and work conducted by Washington Post’s Book World editor, Ron Charles. The Library partners with Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital and The Washington Post to present this series and offer behind-the-scenes conversations with some of the country’s most important poets.

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout

November 29, 2017
Rae Armantrout is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2015 (2016); Itself (2015)Versed (2009), which won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize; Next Life (2007), selected by the New York Times as one of the most notable books of 2007; Up to Speed (2004), a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in Poetry; and Veil: New and Selected Poems (2001), also a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award. She currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego, where she is Professor of Poetry and Poetics.

View Webcast of Rae Armantrout

Dawn Lundy Martin

Dawn Lundy Martin

October 23, 2017
Dawn Lundy Martin is the author of four poetry collections, including A Gathering of Matter/A Matter of Gathering (2007), winner of the Cave Canem Prize; DISCIPLINE (2011),selected by Fanny Howe for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (2015), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; and, most recently, Good Stock, Strange Blood (2017). The co-editor of The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism and a member of the Black Took Collective, Martin is a professor in the Department of English and the director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh. Photo credit: Mark Freeman.

View Webcast of Dawn Lundy Martin

Dana Levin

Dana Levin

April 7, 2017
Dana Levin is the author of four poetry collections, including In the Surgical Theatre (1999), Sky Burial (2011), and Banana Palace (2016). Her honors include awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Lannan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Whiting Foundation. In 2004 Poet Laureate Louise Glück awarded Levin a Witter Bynner Fellowship. Levin lives in Santa Fe and teaches at Maryville University in St. Louis, where she serves as distinguished writer-in-residence. Photo credit: Anne Staveley

View Webcast of Dana Levin

Brenda Shaughnessy

Brenda Shaughnessy

February 7, 2017
Brenda Shaughnessy is the author of four poetry collections, including Human Dark with Sugar (2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; Our Andromeda (2012); and So Much Synth (2016). Her work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Boston Review, McSweeney’s, and Best American Poetry, among other places. A former Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, she is the poetry editor-at-large at Tin House magazine and assistant professor of English in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Rutgers–Newark. Photo credit: Sylvia Plachy.

View Webcast of Brenda Shaughnessy

Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes

September 29, 2016
Terrance Hayes is the author of five poetry collections, including How to be Drawn (2015) and Lighthead (2010), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. Among numerous honors, he has received fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. Photo credit: Victoria Smith

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Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang

May 19, 2016
Mary Jo Bang is the author of five poetry collections, including Apology for Want (1997), winner of the Bakeless Prize and a Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award; and Elegy (2007), which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. Her other honors include a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, and a Berlin Prize fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. She is a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Photo credit: Mark Schäfer

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Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail

March 2, 2016
Dunya Mikhail is the author of two poetry collections, including The War Works Hard (2005), which won PEN’s Translation Fund Award. Her honors include a Kresge Fellowship, an Arab American Book Award, and a United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. She lives in Michigan, where she lectures at Oakland University.

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Alice Fulton

Alice Fulton

November 4, 2015
Alice Fulton is the author of eight books of poetry, including Felt (2001), winner of a Bobbitt Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress. Her other honors include fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations, as well as an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. She is a professor of English at Cornell University and lives in Ithaca, New York. Photo credit: Hank De Leo

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Brian Turner

Brian Turner

October 8, 2015
Brian Turner served in the army for seven years before earning his MFA in poetry at the University of Oregon. The author of two books of poems, including Here, Bullet (2007) as well as the memoir My Life as a Foreign Country (2014), he is the winner of a Beatrice Hawley Award and a Poets’ Prize. He directs the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College and lives in Orlando, Florida.

View Webcast of Brian Turner

Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle

May 13, 2015
Mary Ruefle is the author of 13 books of poetry, including her Selected Poems (2010), which won a William Carlos Williams Award. Her other honors include a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Robert Creeley Award. She teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Bennington, Vermont. Photo credit: Michelle Eikenbary

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Frank Bidart

Frank Bidart

February 19, 2015
Frank Bidart is the author of nine poetry collections, including Desire (1997), winner of a Bobbitt Prize for Poetry; and Metaphysical Dog (2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other honors include a Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and a Bollingen Prize in American Poetry. He is a professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Photo credit: Jeff Love

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August Kleinzahler

August Kleinzahler

November 4, 2014
August Kleinzahler is the author of 11 volumes of poetry, including The Strange Hours Travelers Keep (2004), winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize; and Sleeping it Off in Rapid City (2008), which won a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. His other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in San Francisco. Photo credit: Star Black

View Webcast of August Kleinzahler

Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist

September 17, 2014
Mary Szybist is the author of two books of poetry, Granted (2003) and Incarnadine (2013), which won the National Book Award for Poetry. Her other honors include a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches at Lewis & Clark College.  Photo credit: Joni Kabana

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Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch

April 13, 2014
Edward Hirsch is the author of several critical volumes about poetry and nine poetry collections, including Wild Gratitude (1986), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Gabriel (2014). His other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, as well as an Academy of Arts and Letters Award and an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award. Hirsch is president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He lives in Brooklyn. Photo credit: Michael Lionstar

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Carl Phillips

Carl Phillips

February 6, 2014
Carl Phillips
is the author of 13 books of poetry, including Reconnaissance (2015); The Tether (2001), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Double Shadow (2011), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His other honors include fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an Academy of American Poets Prize. He is a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Photo credit: Dinty W. Moore

View Webcast of Carl Phillips