Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of two collections of poetry, Stellar Places (Moyer Bell 2007) and Harbors and Spirits (Moyer Bell 1999), and of the widely celebrated and influential novel, Rails Under My Back (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000), which won The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Fiction. His other awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, The Chicago Public Library’s Twenty-first Century Award, a Recognition for Pioneering Achievements in Fiction from the African American Literature and Culture Association, and a support grant from Creative Capital, and the 2003 Charles Angoff award for fiction from The Literary Review. He has been at fellow at The Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, a John Farrar Fellow in Fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a Walter E. Dakins Fellow in Fiction at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His essays, reviews, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications, including The Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers, Triquarterly, Ploughshares, Bomb, Hambone, The Antioch Review, StoryQuarterly, African Voices, African American Review, Callaloo , Arkansas Review, Other Voices, Black Renaissance Noire, Notre Dame Review, and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. His work has also appeared in several anthologies, including 110 Stories: New York Writes after September 11, Rainbow Darkness: An Anthology of African American Poetry, Chicago Noir, and Homeground: Language for an American Landscape. Born in Chicago , he holds a Ph.D. in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently an Associate Professor of English at Queens College of The City University of New York and an instructor in the graduate writing program at New School University . He has also taught for Cave Canem, the Summer Literary Seminars program in St. Petersburg , Russia , and Nairobi , Kenya , and in the writing program at Columbia University . And he is the director of the Pan African Literary Forum, a non-profit organization which serves writers and will hold an annual writers’ conference, the first to open in Ghana in the summer of 2008. A resident of Far Rockaway, Queens , Allen’s book of short stories, Bread and the Land, will be published in 2008. Allen is presently at work Talking Talk, a book of interviews and conversations with fiction writers of African descent from around the world, and the novel Song of the Shank, based on the life of Thomas Greene Wiggins, a nineteenth century African American piano virtuoso and composer who performed under the stage name Blind Tom.