Poet Sharon Olds curates the 20th Radical Poetry Reading, featuring Toi Derricotte, Yusef Komunyakaa, Danez Smith, and Leila Chatti.
In this talk
Sharon Olds was born in San Francisco and educated at Stanford University and Columbia University. She is the author of twelve books of poetry, including most recently Odes (2016) and Stag’s Leap (2012), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize. Her other honors include the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award for her first book, Satan Says (1980), and the National Book Critics Circle Award for her second, The Dead and the Living (1983), which was also the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983. The Father (1992) was short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize in England, and The Unswept Room (2002) was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Olds teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and helped to found the NYU workshop program for residents of Coler-Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, and for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Her next collection, Arias, will be published by Knopf in October 2019. She lives in New York City.
Toi Derricotte is the author of 2019 National Book Awards Finalist I: New & Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019), The Undertaker’s Daughter (2011), and four earlier collections of poetry, including Tender, winner of the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks (W.W. Norton), received the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her honors include, among many others, the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement, the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, three Pushcart Prizes, and the Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists. Professor Emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, Derricotte co-founded Cave Canem Foundation (with Cornelius Eady); served on the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors, 2012-2017; and currently serves on Cave Canem’s Board of Directors, Marsh Hawk Press’s Artistic Advisory Board, and the Advisory Board of Alice James Books.
Yusef Komunyakaa’s numerous books of poems include Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999; Talking Dirty to the Gods; Thieves of Paradise, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Magic City; Dien Cai Dau, which won the Dark Room Poetry Prize; I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head, winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Award; Copacetic; and most recently, The Emperor of Water Clocks. Komunyakaa’s prose is collected in Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries. He also co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology and co-translated The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu. His honors include the William Faulkner Prize from the Universite Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, where he served as a correspondent and managing editor of the Southern Cross. In 1999, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Yusef Komunyakaa is a senior faculty member in the NYU Creative Writing Program.
Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Homie (Graywolf Press, 2020), Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, the New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. They are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.
Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of Deluge (Copper Canyon Press, 2020) and the chapbooks Ebb (Akashic Books, 2018) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Cleveland State University, where she was the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. She currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is the Mendota Lecturer in Poetry. Her poems appear in The New York Times Magazine, POETRY, Ploughshares, Tin House, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.