Molly Peacock has published six books of poetry, including her most recent one,The Second Blush, and the volume of collected and selected poems entitled Cornucopia.She  also writes creative non-fiction and has written and performed in a one-woman staged monologue in poems, The Shimmering Verge. Her many  awards includeDanforth Foundation, Ingram Merrill Foundation,  National Endowment for the Arts, Canada Council on the Arts, and New York State Council on the Arts Fellowships, and among the venues  where her work has appeared are The New Yorker, Poetry, The New Criterion, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. Molly Peacock was one of the originators of Poetry in Motion, the program placing poems in subways, buses, and taxi cabs.

Often humorous and conversational—yet intense and speculative—her poems are in dialogue with those of Donne and many of her other predecessors.  Her “AshWednesday, Hurrying Eastward,” for example, is both a riff and meditation on one of Donne’s best known poems, “Good Friday. Riding Westward.”


Nigel Smith  improbably but impressively wears two very different hats—he is a distinguished scholar of seventeenth literature and also a leader of the band Wayside Shrines, where he plays bass and mandolin and also sings. For the Donne and Contemporary Poetry event he will be performing settings of Paul Muldoon’s poetry and of Donne’s “Flea” and “A Nocturnall on St Lucies Day,” having collaborated with another musician, Andrew C. Lovett, on those Donne arrangements. The band has performed widely  and recently released a CD. Word on the Street.

An Englishman, Nigel Smith formerly taught at Oxford, he is now William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Books and Media there.  He has written on Donne, and among his many other publications are Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon, Is Milton better than Shakespeare? and the Longman Annotated English Poets edition of Andrew Marvell's Poems. He  also  co-edited with Nicholas McDowell the Oxford Handbook to Milton.  Two of his books have been recognized as TLS 'Books of the Year. '


Carl Phillips is the author of numerous books of poetry and a Professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.  Early on, he was greatly influenced by ancient Greek and Roman writers, especially Thucydides, Cicero, and Tacitus, learning "how forceful syntax can be in conveying nuance" as well as the use of "compression when conveying psychological and emotional crisis." .  Later, while studying with Geoffrey Hill, he discovered English Metaphysical poets such as George Herbert and John Donne.

Phillips' poetry books of , including Silverchest (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013),Double Shadow (2012), Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006 (2007) andRiding Westward (2006).  His poems have also been included in many anthologies including The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (2003), edited by J. D. McClatchy, Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology (2002), edited by Helen Vendler, and been chosen eight times for the annual Best American Poetry series. Phillips is also the author of a book of prose, Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Art and Life of Poetry (2004), and the translator of Sophocles’s Philoctetes (2003).  His honors include the 2006 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pushcart Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress.


Kimberly Johnson is a poet, translator, and literary critic. Her collections of poetry include Leviathan with a HookA Metaphorical God, and the forthcoming Uncommon Prayer. Her monograph on the poetic developments of post-Reformation poetry will be published in 2014. In 2009, Penguin Classics published her translation of Virgil’s Georgics.

Her poetry, translations, and scholarly essays have appeared widely in publications including The New YorkerSlateThe Iowa ReviewMilton Quarterly, and Modern Philology

Recipient of grants and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Arts Council, and the Mellon Foundation, Johnson holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature from the University of California at Berkeley.

Kimberly Johnson lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Timothy Donnelly  is the author of Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit  (Grove, 2003) and The Cloud Corporation (Wave, 2010; Picador, 2011), winner of the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.  He is the poetry editor of Boston Review, a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow, and an associate professor in the Writing Program at Columbia University.  Among the journals where his work has appeared are Harper’s, jubilat, The Nation, and The Paris Review. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Phillis Levin  is the author of four collections of poetry, Temples and Fields(University of Georgia Press, 1988), The Afterimage  (Copper Beech Press, 1995),Mercury  (Penguin, 2001), and May Day  (Penguin, 2008). She is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English  (Penguin, 2001).  Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, an Ingram Merrill Grant, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Manhattan and teaches at Hofstra University.


Helen Cespedes  is an actress, writer, and reader living in New York City.  She is currently performing off-broadway as Felicity in The Mint Theater's production of A Picture of Autumn.  Regional: Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest(Williamstown), The Princess of France in Love's Labour's Lost  (Chautauqua), Romeo and Juliet, The Clean House, Williams in Transit, Ivanov, After the Revolution, Henry V.  She holds a BFA in Comparative Literature from Barnard College and is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School's Drama Division.  She is the 2012-2013 recipient of the John Houseman Prize.


Heather Dubrow, John D. Boyd, SJ, Chair in the Poetic Imagination at Fordham University, is the author of a collection of poems entitled Forms and Hollowsand two chapbooks; her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Yale Review. Wearing her other hat as a literary critic, she has published six scholarly books, which include many discussions of Donne, and an edition of As You Like It. She is director of Fordham's Poets Out Loud reading series and the initiator and coordinator of Donne and Contemporary Poetry.