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contributors  
 
dennis mcfarland
dennis mcfarland photo
  Dennis McFarland is the author of two highly acclaimed novels, The Music Room, a New York Times bestseller, and School for the Blind. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. McFarland attended Brooklyn College to study music composition, then turned to fiction and went on to Goddard College to study creative writing with Frank Conroy, among others. He is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Stanford University, where he later taught creative writing. Born and raised in the Deep South, with years spent in New York City and San Francisco, McFarland now lives in "the People's Republic of Cambridge" in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
 
 
chitra banerjee divakaruni
photo of chitra banerjee divakaruni
  Indian-born Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning poet and author who teaches creative writing at Foothill College in Los Altos, California, where she also serves as president of MAITRI, a helpline for South Asian women. Her much-praised collection of short stories, Arranged Marriage was awarded the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize for fiction, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award for fiction, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Her third collection of poetry, Leaving Yuba City will be published this summer. Ms. Divakaruni lives with her husband and two children in Sunnyvale, California.
 
 
margaret atwood
photo of margaret atwood
  Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario and Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College. Throughout her thirty years of writing, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and several honorary degrees. She is the author of more than twenty-five volumes of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), and most recently, Alias Grace (1996). Contemporary Authors lists Margaret Atwood's religion as a "Pessimistic Pantheist"; in her own words that means that "God is everywhere, but losing." She currently lives in Toronto with novelist Graeme Gibson.  
 
bert keizer
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  Born in 1947, in the small Dutch provincial town of Amersfoort, I was raised in a rather joyous strand of Roman Catholicism. When I was 11, my mother died of a liver disease. I would like to say that her death prompted me to study medicine, but that is not the case, whatever my analyst says. I studied philosophy at the University of Nottingham in England, and later studied medicine in Amsterdam. After a short stint in Kenya, I returned to Amsterdam where I found a job in a nursing home where I discovered I could practice medicine away from the sledge-hammer-careerism common to the trade: I had time to read and write. To write and thereby cause people to laugh, to think, to love, to cry has been my deepest wish ever since I got acquainted with literature and philosophy. Up until my fortieth year I have looked upon my writing as a kind of singing in the bath: I thought it sounded terrific and no one ever heard it anyway. It took two years to write the book. It is based upon ten years of diaries and private correspondence.

I married. Got divorced. And married again. I have a son of 14 and a daughter of 8.
 
 
matthew jones
photo of matthew and reuben jones
  My Daddy loves to make up stories and tell them to me. I think they're pretty good. He says every story is partly the truth about whoever tells it. He told me that before he started writing stories, he was a lawyer, who used to dress up in a suit and tie and listen to peoples problems and try to work them out so that they weren't so bad, but that one day something happened to him and he woke up in a hospital and the doctor there told him he might not be able to move much of himself anymore and right then he made up his mind that whether the doctor was right or not about that, he wasn't going to be a lawyer anymore, he was going to be a storyteller and he has been ever since. My mother tells me it's a true story about my Daddy so I guess it must be but still its hard for me to believe because I've only seen him dressed up in a suit one time and that was for my aunt's wedding and also, he moves himself around just fine now and is always in these swimming races. I love him even if it's not true and even if he didn't, like he says he did, live until he was eight years old in a fancy house in Boston instead of living from the time he was born until he was old enough to leave on a cow farm up the hollow where my Grandma has lived for over thirty years.

Reuben Isiah Jones, age 6, on his Daddy, Matthew F. Jones, as dictated to his Mommy.
 
 
letty cottin pogrebin
photo of letty cottin pogrebin
  Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. magazine, is the author of eight books, most recently, Getting Over Getting Older, which will be published in May by Berkley paperbacks, and has published widely in magazines and newspapers. She lives in New York with her husband, attorney Bernard Pogrebin.  
 
george bernard shaw
photo of george bernard shaw
  The great playwright and essayist George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland ln 1856. Amongst his many claims to posterity is his singular achievement of winning both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar, for Best Screenplay (1938). As a self-proclaimed "unsocial socialist," Shaw cultivated his image as an iconoclast, irreverent about people and conventions. When he died, he directed the major portion of his estate to be used to revamp the English alphabet into a phonetic one. Amongst his most celebrated plays are: "The Devil's Disciple," "Major Barbara," "Pygmalion," "Heartbreak House" and "Saint Joan." Shaw died in 1950.  
 
leo tolstoy
photo of leo tolstoy
  Count Leo (Lev) Nikolaevich Tolstoy was born to an aristocratic Russian family on September 9, 1828. At the age of 23, Tolstoy joined the Russian Army and fought in the Crimean War; his first printed work, Childhood, appeared in 1852, while he was still in the service. Tolstoy returned to his family's estate in 1861, and in 1862, married Sofia Behrs. The next 15 years he devoted to managing the estate and writing his two major works, War and Peace (1865-7) and Anna Karenina (1875-7). During his later years, Tolstoy grew increasingly disenchanted with the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church and gradually formulated for himself a new Christian ideal, the central creed of which involved nonresistance to evil. In practice, his asceticism required that he repudiate all vices, even forsaking physical contact with his own wife. Despite these changes, he continued to write voluminously, including the novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) and the novels The Kreutzer Sonata (1891) and Resurrection (1899). In 1910, still unable to reconcile his life as an aristocrat with the simpler existence he craved, he abandoned his estate. He soon fell ill and was found dead on a cot in a railway station. He was buried on his estate at Yasnaya Pulyana.  
 
barry yourgrau
photo of barry yourgrau
  Barry Yourgrau is a surreal late-20th century phenom--a darkly Freudian jester-extraordinaire in print, on MTV "Unplugged," and on NPR's "All Things Considered." Both a pop and highbrow cult fave, his fans range from Gothic novelist Patrick McGrath to Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz. Yourgrau's imagination blends Monty Python farce with dreamy lyricism. He is the author of The Sadness of Sex, a collection of short stories. "On The Flood," featured in this month's Bold Type is taken from Haunted Traveller, a work-in-progress.  
 
emily dickinson
photo of emily dickinson
  Virtually unpublished in her lifetime, Emily Dickinson now stands as one of the most admired and beloved poets in the English language. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10, 1830, to a socially prominent and well-to-do family, Dickinson attended Amherst Academy for seven years and subsequently entered Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. It is believed that she began writing poetry around 1850. In 1862, she sent four of her poems to well-known writer Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who, thinking her "wayward" and "uncontrolled," urged her not to publish. Nevertheless, she continued writing prolifically in her own characteristic style; it is estimated that in that same year, she wrote at least 366 poems. During the early 1860s, Dickinson began gradually to withdraw from society; by the end of her life, her retirement was absolute. After her death in 1886, her sister Lavinia discovered in Dickinson's effects a locked box containing hundreds and hundreds of poems. It was Lavinia who saw to it that her sister's poetry should find a publisher, beginning with three volumes in the 1890s.  
 
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    Photo Credits: Dennis McFarland: Richard Hunt; Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Dru Ariel Banerjee; Margaret Atwood: Isolde Ahlbaum; Bert Keizer: Roger Fokke; Letty Cottin Pogrebin: Bill Miles; Barry Yourgrau: Michael Grecco.