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june jordan
june jordan
  Distinguished poet, activist, essayist, novelist, and teacher, June Jordan is the author of twenty-four books and is best known for the collections Things I Do in the Dark, Civil Wars, and Technical Difficulties. She is Professor of African-American Studies at the University of Berkeley, where she also directs the Poetry for People Project. Jordan's work has been anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and No More Masks!: An Anthology of Twentieth Century American Women Poetry, among many others. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Progressive, Essence, The Washington Post, Ms., Esquire, The Nation, The New Republic, and other publications. Born and raised in Harlem, she now lives in Berkeley, California, where she is at work on her memoir.
melanie thernstrom
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  My first book, The Dead Girl, is a memoir about the murder of my best friend, Bibi Lee, when I was an undergraduate at Harvard. I felt drawn to write Halfway Heaven--to try to unravel the mystery of these deaths--partly because of the echos to my own experience, and the odd coincidence that I had met Sinedu once when I was teaching a seminar in autobiographical writing at Harvard. The book is based primarily on her diaries, which the police collected from her room after her death, in which she writes about her struggles as a foreign student to make friends and find her way in American life.

Working on Halfway Heaven made me think a great deal about what it means to come to America. I became interested in the experience of other newcomers to our country, and I attended an English language class for refugees and immigrants at Riverside Church in New York City. This piece, "English Only," is about that class.
leon botstein
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  Leon Botstein has been president of Bard College since 1975 and is also the Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Bard. He received the B.A. degree with special honors in history from the University of Chicago and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in European history from Harvard. He formerly served as president of Franconia College, lecturer in history at Boston University, and special assistant to the president of the New York City Board of Education. He is past chairman of the Harper's Magazine Foundation and of the New York Council for the Humanities, a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, and a member of the board of the Central European University and of numerous other boards and professional associations.

Dr. Botstein is music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, as well as co-artistic director of the Bard Music Festival and artistic director of the American Russian Youth Orchestra. He is also editor of The Musical Quarterly and his book Judentum und Modernitat: Essays zur Rolle der Juden in Der deutschen und osterreichischen Kultur 1848-1938 was published in 1991 by Bohlau Verlag in Vienna; an English translation will be published by Yale University Press. Forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press is Music and Its Public: Habits of Listening and the Crisis of Musical Modernism in Vienna, 1870-1914. Just released by Doubleday is Jefferson's Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture. An additional book on Brahms is in progress for Norton.
peter ackroyd
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  Peter Ackroyd's recent books are Milton in America, The Trial of Elizabeth Cree, a novel, and Blake, a biography. He is also the author of the biographies T.S. Eliot (winner of the Whitbread Prize) and Dickens; his other novels include Chatterton, Hawksmoor (winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize), The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), and English Music. His next book, Sir Thomas More, is a biography in which he explores the life of the extraordinary "man for all seasons," who defied Henry VIII and by so doing became a Catholic martyr. Peter Ackroyd lives in London.  
henry david thoreau
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  Henry David Thoreau was born July 12, 1817-- "just in the nick of time," as he wrote, for the "flowering of New England," when the area boasted such eminent citizens as Emerson, Hawthorne, Whitman and Melville. Raised in genteel poverty-- his father made and sold pencils from their home-- Thoreau enjoyed, nevertheless, a fine education, graduating from Harvard in 1837. In that year, the young thinker met Emerson and formed the close friendship that became the most significant of his life. Guided, sponsored and aided by his famous older colleague, Thoreau began to publish essays in The Dial, exhibiting the radical originality that would gain the disdain of his contemporaries but the great admiration of all succeeding generations.

In 1845, Thoreau began the living experiment for which he is most famous. During his two years and two months in the shack beside the New England pond, he wrote his first important work, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), was arrested for refusing to pay his poll tax to a government that supported slavery (recorded in "Civil Disobedience") and gathered the material for his masterpiece, Walden (1854). He spent the rest of his life writing and lecturing and died, relatively unappreciated, in 1862.
karen murai
  Karen Murai is a graduate of Columbia College, Chicago, Illinoism, where she edited an award-winning anthology of student writing, Hair Trigger 8 & 9. Her work has appeared in New American Writing, Oink!, B-City, and student publications. One of her poems, "A Middle Class Monologue," won a 1987 Illinois Arts Council Literary Award.  
    Photo Credits: June Jordan: Linda Sue Scott Photography; Melanie Thernstrom: Mark Morelli; Peter Ackroyd: Roderick Field.