2018 Spotlight Readers
Barbara Crooker is the author of eight books of poetry, including Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017). Radiance, her first book, won the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and was finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance, her second book, won the Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature. Her writing has received a number of awards, including the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her work appears in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania and The Bedford Introduction to Literature, and has been read on The Writer's Almanac and featured on Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Moulin à Nef, Auvillar, France, and The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland.
Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes spent most of his childhood and early adult life in Jamaica. He is a writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of Ghana, citing in an interview his "spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music." Indeed, his book Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius remains the most authoritative study of the lyrics of Bob Marley. Of his sixteen collections of poetry, his most recent titles include Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon, 2013), shortlisted for the PEN Open Book Award; Wheels (2011); Back of Mount Peace (2009); Hope's Hospice (2009); Wisteria, finalist for the Patterson Memorial Prize; Impossible Flying (2007); and Gomer's Song (2007). Progeny of Air (Peepal Tree, 1994) was the winner of the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in the UK. Other poetry collections include Resisting the Anomie (Goose Lane, 1995); Prophets (Peepal Tree, 1995); Jacko Jacobus, (Peepal Tree, 1996); and Requiem, (Peepal Tree, 1996), a suite of poems inspired by the illustrations of African American artist Tom Feelings in his landmark book The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo>/i>; and Shook Foil (Peepal Tree, 1998), a collection of reggae-inspired poems. His book, Midland, was awarded the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize by the Ohio University Press (2001). Dawes was a winner of a Pushcart Prize for the best American poetry of 2001 for his long poem, "Inheritance." His seventeenth and most recent collection, City of Bones, published in 2017 along with two UK releases Vuelo: Poemas, a translation of Gustavo Osorio and Speak from Here to There: Poems written along with John Kinsella.
Carmen Giménez Smith is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of a memoir and four poetry collections, including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle award in poetry. She co-edited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing, an anthology of contemporary Latinx writing (Counterpath Press, 2014), and serves as the publisher of Noemi Press, which has published over 40 full-length collections of poetry and fiction. Her next collection of poems, Cruel Futures, will be a volume in the City Lights Spotlight Series in 2018. Be Recorder will be published by Graywolf Press in 2019. She is Professor of English at Virginia Tech.
Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. He is a graduate of Indiana University and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is the author of The Devil's Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award and Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. Mixology was also a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. His most recent collection of poems, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His new book, Map to the Stars, was released from Penguin in March 2017. Among Matejka's other honors are the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, two grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington and is currently working on a new collection of poems, Hearing Damage, and a graphic novel.