Richard Siken was educated at the University of Arizona and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, where he is a full-time social worker caring for developmentally disabled adults. He also coedits Spork Press, which published the quarterly literary magazine Spork from 2001 to 2010 and continues to issue it occasionally, along with chapbooks and novels. To make these dual lives possible, Siken has regularly worked twenty-hour shifts on the weekend to free up time to edit for the press and write his poetry during the week.
Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, England, but emigrated to the United States in January 1939. He is thus claimed on both sides of the ocean. That year Auden also fell in love with the American writer Chester Kallman, who became his lifetime partner. Auden took American citizenship in 1946, but thereafter he divided his time between New York and southern Italy.
Ginsberg was at once one of the major poets of the second half of the twentieth century and a public figure who entreated his country by way of his poetry to realize its full democratic potential. Ginsberg was never actually militant or aggressive. Learned in Zen Buddhism and Western mysticism, his presence exuded rather an expansive and insistent gentleness.
Born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Charles Henri Ford was first known as the editor of Blues: A Magazine of Verse (1929-30), after which he lived in Paris for several years. He edited the beautiful surrealist magazine View in New York from 1940-47 and lived in Italy from 1952-57. He began publishing his own surrealist poetry in the 1930s and began to exhibit his paintings worldwide in the 1950s.
Born in Oakland, California, Robert Duncan was adopted after his mother died in childbirth and given the name Robert Edward Symmes, but Duncan took his biological father's surname in 1941. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley from 1936-1938, spent some time in New York, and then returned to San Francisco, where he became a key figure in what came to be known as the "San Francisco Renaissance" and where he resided for the rest of his life.
Born in Tennessee, the son of an army engineer, Mark Doty has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the M.F.A. Program at Vermont College, the University of Utah, and The University of Houston. He now teaches at Rutgers University. In addition to his poetry, he is the author of a 1981 critical study of James Agee and of Heaven's Coast (1996), a memoir of his partner Wally Roberts's death from AIDS. Frightened by his emerging sexual identity, Doty married hastily at age eighteen but was divorced after graduating from Drake University in Iowa.
Born in a small Ohio town, Hart Crane grew up in Cleveland. He went to New York after leaving high school, but ended up returning to Cleveland until 1923, along the way accumulating work experience in advertising agencies, a newspaper, and in his father's businesses. He faced continual difficulty and much stress supporting himself and had to rely on relatives and a benefactor.
Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Gertrude Stein and her six siblings were left alone when her mother died in 1888 and her father died in 1891. Stein and her brother Leo moved to live with her mother's sister. Meanwhile, an older brother helped to secure an independent income for them. She then followed Leo to Harvard, studying at the Annex that would later become Radcliffe, and spent two years with him at Johns Hopkins studying medicine.