Syracuse English professor Mary Karr is the author of two bestselling memoirs, The Liars' Club and Cherry. She has won Pushcart prizes for both her poetry and essays. Her new book of poems is Sinners Welcome.
Leonard Cohen's poetry career began 50 years ago with the 1956 publication of Let Us Compare Mythologies. His new volume of poetry is called Book of Longing. Cohen, known better as the deep-voiced writer of songs that straddle the folk-rock fence, is also working on an upcoming album to be released later this year.
Ted Kooser won the 2005 Pulitzer prize for poetry and publishes American Life in Poetry, a free weekly column for newspapers and websites that provides a brief poem and description as a way to bring verse to the masses. His poems are about the simple details of everyday life.
In addition to heading the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia (pronounced JOY-ah) is the author of several collections of poetry, including Interrogations at Noon. He has also translated the poetry of Italian Nobel Prize winner Eugenio Montale. Before he quit to become a poet, Gioia was a vice president at General Foods.
Poet Sharon Olds. Her new collection of poems is The Unswept Room. She has a number of previous collections, including Satan Says and The Dead and the Living. Olds was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000. She teaches poetry workshops in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University.
Lehman is the series editor of "The Best American Poetry." His new book "The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets" (Doubleday) is a cultural history about a group of poets in the 1950s who he says helped to reinvent literature, like John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. They took their cue from the Abstract Expressionistic painters of the time who were also in New York.
Snyder was part of the beat poetry scene in 1950s San Francisco, and inspired a character in several Jack Kerouac novels. He studied Eastern philosophy and religion, and later settled in a more isolated part of the United States -- far from the urban world. He won the Pulitzer Prize, and continues to teach and write. His new collection of essays considers his relationship with the wilderness. (Rebroadcast)
Writer Grace Paley. Born in the Bronx in 1922, she's written three highly acclaimed volumes of short stories. Paley was actively involved in the feminist and anti-war movements, and regards herself as a "somewhat combative pacifist and a cooperative anarchist." Her "Collected Stories" have just been released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. (Rebroadcast from 3/26/92).