Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Life on Mars (Graywolf 2011), was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Duende (Graywolf 2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (Graywolf 2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is the recipient of a 2004 Rona Jaffe Writers Award, a 2005 Whiting Award and was the Literature protégé in the 2009-2011 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, is forthcoming from Knopf. She is professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Mary Jo Bang is the author of six Bang, Mary Jo NEW (Mark Schäfer)collections of poems, including Louise in Love, The Bride of E, and Elegy, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her translation of Dante’s Inferno, with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, was published by Graywolf Press in 2012. A new volume of poems, The Last Two Seconds, is forthcoming from Graywolf in 2015. She lives in St. Louis where she is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Washington University.
Dara Wier‘s new book is YOU GOOD THING from Wave Books. Among her other dozen orso books are REVERSE RAPTURE and VOYAGES IN ENGLISH. She’s an editor and founder of factory hollow press, a member of Flying Object, an arts lab in Hadley, Massachusetts, and as permanent faculty current director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s MFA for Poets and Writers where she’s a founding director of the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Her love and admiration for John Ashbery cannot be exaggerated.
Aki Sasamoto is a New York-based artist, who works in performance, sculpture, dance, and whatever more medium that takes to get her ideas across. In her installation/performance works, Aki moves and talks inside the careful arrangements of sculpturally altered objects, activating bizarre emotions behind daily life. Her works appear in theater spaces, gallery spaces, as well as in odd outdoor sites. Shown in exhibitions at Mori Museum, Take Ninagawa, Yokohama Triennale 2008, Japan; Gwangju Biennial 2012, South Korea; Chocolate Factory Theater, the Kitchen, Soloway, Whitney Biennial 2010 at Whitney Museum, Greater New York 2010 at MOMA-PS1, New York; and numerous other international and domestic venues. Besides her own work, she has collaborated with visual artists, musicians, choreographers, mathematicians, and scholars. Aki is also a co-founder of the nonprofit interdisciplinary organization, Culture Push Inc.
Mark So lives in Los Angeles. His work explores ordinary situations in various open frames of perception and action through simple means of recording / transcription / reading, as well as changing experiences of silence. He has produced a vast output of scores, tapes, and ephemera, including some 300 pieces engaging the poetry of John Ashbery. His Heliogabalus operas for 1, 2, and 3 readers leverage Artaud’s text — a “concoction of sexual excess, self-deification and terminal violence” — with his own. In addition to musical activities, he has collaborated on projects with a range of artists including Rick Bahto, Madison Brookshire, Adam Fitzgerald, Chris Girard, Julia Holter, Eileen Myles, Julie Tolentino/Stosh Fila, and Manfred Werder, often resulting in work that occupies its own genre.
Chris Russell was born in Palo Alto, CA, in 1982, and currently lives in New York City and works as a teacher of children with blindness and visual impairment. He is the contributor illustrator for Stonecutter: A Journal of Art and Literature, and his work has been featured in Higher Arc, Washington Square Review, Juxtapoz, and 92Y’s Podium. He is currently working on a “graphic translation” of Witold Gombrowicz’s Cosmos.