Festival Participants

Robert Faggen - author, editor and critic
Director of The Family of Benjamin Z. Gould Center for Humanistic Studies

Robert Faggen is the Director of The Family of Benjamin Z. Gould Center for Humanistic Studies. In 2009, he helped found the non-profit Czeslaw Milosz Institute and Archive, encouraging and benefiting the study of Milosz and Polish culture at Claremont McKenna College.


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Jacek Dehnel - author, poet, and translator

Jacek Dehnel was born in 1980 in Gdansk, Poland. He graduated from the Polish Language and Literature faculty at the Interfacultative Individual Studies College, University of Warsaw. He is the author of six books of poems, two collections of short stories, Kolekcja (1999) and Rynek w Smyrnie (2007), a cycle of four mini-novels, Balzakiana (2008), a collection of 100 short prose pieces about old photos, Fotoplastikon (2009), and two novels, Lala (2006) and Saturn (2011). Dehnel has been published in many literary magazines both in Poland and abroad; his works have been translated into German, English, Hebrew, Italian, French, Hungarian and other languages.

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Photo Courtesy of Piotr Sunderland

Piotr Florczyk - poet and translator

Piotr Florczyk is a poet and translator. With Been and Gone (Marick Press, 2009), he introduced the English-speaking audience to Julian Kornhauser (1946-), one of the foremost Polish poets of the Generation of '68. He is also the translator of a collection of poems by Anna Swir (1909-84), Building the Barricade and Other Poems (Calypso Editions, 2011) and the forthcoming collection of poems by Jacek Gutorow,  The Folding Star and other Poems (BOA Editions, 2012). He holds an MFA from San Diego State University, and has taught at the University of Delaware, San Diego State University, and at University of California-Riverside. Piotr Florczyk lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Jacek Gutorow - poet, literary critic, and translator

Jacek Gutorow (b. 1970) is a Polish poet, literary critic and translator. He has published six volumes of poetry, five books of critical essays and numerous translations from British and American poetry. He won the 2004 Ludwik Fryde Award granted by the International Association of Literary Critics and was nominated to three most important literary awards (Nike, Gdynia and Cogito) for his 2008 collection of poems Inne tempo (A Different Tempo). In Spring 2012, BOA Editions will publish The Folding Star and Other Poems, Gutorow's first book in English, with translations done by Piotr Florczyk. Gutorow teaches British and American poetry at the University of Opole.

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Photo Courtesy of Grazyna Niezgoda

W.S. Merwin - U.S. Poet Laureate, two Pulitzer Prizes (2010-2011)

In a career spanning five decades, W.S. Merwin, poet, translator, and environmental activist, has become one of the most widely read — and imitated — poets in America. The son of a Presbyterian minister, for whom he began writing hymns at the age of five, Merwin went to Europe as a young man and developed a love of languages that led to work as a literary translator. Over the years, his poetic voice has moved from the more formal and medieval — influenced somewhat by Robert Graves and the medieval poetry he was then translating — to a more distinctly American voice, following his two years in Boston where he got to know Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Adrienne Rich, and Donald Hall, all of whom were breaking out of the rhetoric of the 1950s.

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Photo Courtesy of Shabda Kahn

Adam Michnik - historian, political activist, and Gazeta Wyborcza editor-in-chief

Adam Michnik is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's highest-circulating daily newspaper.  He was is also co-founder of KOR (Committee for the Defense of Workers) in 1976.  Michnik was detained many times during 1965-1980.  A prominent "Solidarity" activist during the '80s, he spent a total of six years in Polish prisons for activities opposing the communist regime.

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Photo Courtesy of Albert Zawada / Agencja Gazeta

Anthony Milosz - composer, translator, hardware and software designer, and son of Czeslaw Milosz

Anthony Milosz was born in 1947 in Washington, DC. He attended public schools and lycee in France, and went on to study linguistics, anthropology, and chemistry at the University of California Berkeley, and neurophysiology and neuropharmacology at the University of California Medical Center in  San Francisco. Currently Milosz is a hardware and software designer, as well as as a composer and member of the Polish Society for Electroacoustic Music.  He recently released "Rzeki", an album of Milosz readings set to music. He has also translated his father Czeslaw's poetry, including the "Last Poems" section of Selected and Last Poems (Ecco Press, Fall 2011).

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Azar Nafisi - author (Reading Lolita in Tehran), professor and contributing writer (The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal)

Azar Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students.  Earning high acclaim and an enthusiastic readership, Reading Lolita in Tehran is an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny.  The book has spent over 117 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.  Reading Lolita in Tehran has been translated in 32 languages, and has won diverse literary awards, including the 2004 Non-fiction Book of the Year Award from Booksense, the Frederic W. Ness Book Award, the 2004 Latifeh Yarsheter Book Award, an achievement award from the American Immigration Law Foundation, as well as being a finalist for the 2004 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Memoir.

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Photo Courtesy of S.J. Staniski

Meghan O'Rourke - poet, author, editor (The New Yorker, Slate, The Paris Review)

Meghan O’Rourke began her career as one of the youngest editors in the history of The New Yorker. Since then, she has served as culture editor and literary critic for Slate as well as poetry editor and advisory editor for The Paris Review. Her essays, criticism, and poems have appeared in Slate, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Redbook, Vogue, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and Best American Poetry. O’Rourke is also the author of the poetry collections Once (2011) and Halflife (2007), which was a finalist for both the Patterson Poetry Prize and Britain’s Forward First Book Prize. She was awarded the inaugural May Sarton Poetry Prize, the Union League Prize for Poetry from the Poetry Foundation, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and a Front Page Award for her cultural criticism.

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Photo Courtesy of Sarah Shat

Robert Pinsky - former U.S. Poet Laureate

Robert Pinsky's first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism, and such national enthusiasm in response, that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry's place in the world.

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Photo Courtesy of Emma Dodge Hanson

Claudia Rankine - poet and author

Whether writing about intimacy or alienation, Claudia Rankine's voice is one of unflinching and unrelenting candor, and her poetry is some of the most innovative and thoughtful to emerge in recent years. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and educated at Williams College and Columbia University, Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry, including the award-winning Nothing in Nature is Private. In The End of the Alphabet and Plot, she welds the cerebral and the spiritual, the sensual and the grotesque. Her latest book, Don't Let Me Be Lonely, an experimental multi-genre project that blends poetry, essays, and images, is an experimental and deeply personal exploration of the condition of fragmented selfhood in contemporary America.

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Photo Courtesy of John Lucas

Mira Rosenthal - poet and translator

Raised in northern California, Mira Rosenthal earned her B.A. from Reed College and received her M.F.A. from the University of Houston. She is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Mira is the author of The Local World, which won the 2010 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, as well as two volumes of poetry translations. Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN American Center, the MacDowell Colony, and the Fulbright Commission. Her poems and translations have been published in many literary journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, APR, West Branch, and A Public Space. You can listen to her read her work on Slate and The Cortland Review.

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Photo Courtesy of Jamie Borland

Tomasz Rozycki - poet and translator

Tomasz Rózycki, Polish poet and translator, was born in 1970 in Opole (Silesia, in southwestern Poland, a region that bears the mark of a distinct mixture of cultures). Rózycki studied Romance Languages at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. He then worked as a French teacher at the Foreign Languages Teaching College in his native city. Alongside his work he translated poetry from French, publishing a translation of Stéphane Mallarmé's Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard in 2005. He is the author of five highly acclaimed collections of poems: Vaterland (1997), Anima (1999), Chata umaita (2001), Swiat i antyswiat (2003). He also published the long epic poem Dwanascie stacji (2004), for which he was awarded the Ko?cielski Prize, the most prestigious literary prize for Polish writers under forty.

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Peter Dale Scott - poet and translator

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. His latest book of poems, Mosaic Orpheus, appeared in 2009 from McGill-Queen's University Press. His most recent prose book is American War Machine, from Rowman & Littlefield (2010).

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Dariusz Sosnicki - poet and editor of Polish contemporary fiction

Dariusz So?nicki was born in 1969 in Kalisz. He graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozna?. He was co-editor of the artzine Ju? Jest Jutro (1991–1994) and co-founder and co-editor of the influential Polish literary biweekly Nowy Nurt (1994–1996). In 1994 he published a collection of poems, Marlewo, which received the best first book award from the magazine Czas Kultury. In 2001, he was a participant in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. The next year his fourth collection of poems, Symmetry, was shortlisted for the Polityka Passport and got the New Books Review Prize. So?nicki’s poems and essays on literature have been published in many magazines and anthologies and translated into a number of languages.

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Photo Courtesy of Adam Kaczanowski

Joanna Trzeciak - writer and translator

Joanna Trzeciak teaches in the translation studies program at Kent State. Her translations
of Polish and Russian literature have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker,
Times Literary Supplement, Harpers, The Atlantic, Paris Review
, and Virginia Quarterly
Review
, among others. Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska (W.W.
Norton), with a foreword by Czeslaw Milosz, was awarded the Heldt Translation Prize.
Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Rózewicz was published by W. W.
Norton earlier this year.

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Lillian Vallee - poet and translator

Lillian Vallee is an award-winning translator, writer and scholar who served an apprenticeship with Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.  Her most recent essays appear in The Invisible Rope and The Devil’s Punchbowl, and her most recent poems in Collision I, II & III; and in More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets.  She writes a popular monthly column, “Rivers of Birds, Forests of Tule:  Central Valley Nature and Culture in Season,” which documents her bioregional passions.  She is currently preparing two books for publication, Bear with a Cross:  Primordial Tradition in the work of Czeslaw Milosz and a novel, Crane Season.

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Photo Courtesy of Manuel Moreno

C.K. Williams - Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

C. K. Williams is the author of ten books of poetry, the most recent of which is Wait (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010). Collected Poems (FSG, 2007), features the long arc of Williams' career, from the morbid sanguinities of his apprentice work to the careful, moving, stanzaic focus evident in 21 new poems. The Singing won the National Book Award for 2003, and his previous book, Repair, was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. His collection Flesh and Blood received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Williams has also published a memoir, Misgivings: My Mother, My Father, Myself, in 2000, and has published translations of Sophocles' Women of Trachis, Euripides' Bacchae, and poems of Francis Ponge, among others. A book of essays, Poetry and Consciousness, appeared in 1998. A prose book entitled Williams, On Whitman, was released in 2010 from Princeton University Press.

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Photo Courtesy of Mary Cross