By day, I’m the assistant director and editor in chief of World Literature Today magazine at the University of Oklahoma. I also teach for OU’s Department of English and am an associated faculty member of the Schusterman Center for Judaic & Israel Studies and, since 2005, an affiliate faculty member of the College of International Studies. A Nebraska native, I received a BA (1990) in French and English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and an MA (1994) and PhD (2000) in comparative literature from Indiana University, Bloomington. I’ve been working in scholarly publishing for twenty-five years—to date, I’ve helped publish more than 400 books and 95 issues of WLT.
My verse chapbook, Cast Off, appeared with Edwin E. Smith Publishing in 2015 and was nominated for the PEN Center USA, Oklahoma Book, Nebraska Book, and Independent Publisher (IPPY) awards. My second book, After Reading Everything, appeared with London’s Eyewear Publishing in 2016 and was nominated for the Griffin, Forward, T. S. Eliot, and other prizes. Individual poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (seven times) and reprinted in the anthologies World English Poetry (2015) and Oklahoma Poems . . . and Their Poets (2014). They have also appeared in various literary journals in the US and abroad—including The Adirondack Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry International, and Ambit—and been translated into French, German, Greek, Spanish, and Turkish. I’ve also translated a number of French- and Spanish-language writers for WLT.
My edited volume Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867–2017, won a 2018 Nebraska Book Award in the Poetry Anthology category. Published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press in April 2017, the book was also named a Legacy Project of the Nebraska 150 Celebrations. The first anthology of its scope, Nebraska Poetry encompasses 150 years of the state’s literary history, featuring 80-plus poets and more than 180 poems. This landmark collection includes poems by authors best known for their prose—like Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, and Tillie Olsen—as well as some remarkable but relatively forgotten writers from the late 19th to the mid 20th centuries. Among the contemporary writers, it includes poets of Nebraska’s renowned “second renaissance” along with a rich array of younger writers who are redefining what poetry from and about the state might represent. A broadly inclusive as well as diverse anthology, Nebraska Poetry celebrates the state’s brilliant contribution not only to Great Plains literature but to the broader traditions of American letters. Twyla Hansen, Nebraska’s current state poet, wrote the foreword to the book. The official statewide launch took place in front of a packed audience at the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors in Lincoln’s downtown public library.
My latest anthology project, Dispatches from the Republic of Letters: 50 Years of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, is a finalist for a 2020 Foreword INDIES Award. The book was published in an elegant hardcover trade edition by Deep Vellum in October 2020. The book reprints the prize lectures by all twenty-five Neustadt Prize laureates from Giuseppe Ungaretti (1970) to Edwidge Danticat (2018) along with the accompanying tribute essays by their respective nominating jurors. I wrote a historical introduction to the anthology, and the launch coincided with the 2020 Neustadt Lit Fest at the University of Oklahoma. A video from the launch can be seen here.
My professional memberships include the Academy of American Poets, PEN American Center, and the Nebraska Center for the Book. I live in Norman, Oklahoma, with my wife and three daughters.
Photo: A. Simon