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Literature for Life: A Thematic Introduction to Reading and Writing as both its title and content suggests, forges a close relationship between students’ reading and life experiences–the texts used are accessible, grounded, relatable, and meaningful. There’s enough range to suit instructors of many backgrounds, experiences, and strengths and to encourage instructors to better teaching and students to better learning. Literature for Life is organized around seven enduring themes: Families, Love, Life’s Journeys, Individual and Society, Personal Identity, Nature and the Environment, and War and Peace. Each theme is divided into clusters that provide instructors with useful teaching units.
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X. J. Kennedy, born in Dover, New Jersey, in 1929, to avoid confusion with better-known Joe Kennedys, stuck an X on his name when his first poems came out in The New Yorker, and ever since has been stuck with it. He has served as a destroyer sailor, as the father of five, as poetry editor of The Paris Review, and as Professor of English at Tufts (he quit the last two jobs in order to write). Nude Descending the Staircase (Lamont Award, Doubleday, 1961) was his first book of poems; more recent ones are In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New & Selected Poems (an American Library Association notable book, 2009) and Peeping Tom's Cabin: Comic Verse (BOA Editions, 2008). He has also written twenty books for children (with Dorothy M. Kennedy, Knock at a Star: A Child's Introduction to Poetry, Longman, 1982, revised 1999); textbooks inflicted on more than six million students, including An Introduction to Poetry, 13th edition (with Dana Gioia); and a comic novel, A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer (Curtis Brown Unlimited, 2014). In 2009, the Poetry Society awarded him its Robert Frost Medal for his life's work in poetry. He and Dorothy live in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Born in Los Angeles in 1950, Dana Gioia attended Stanford University and did graduate work at Harvard, where he studied with Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Fitzgerald. He left Harvard to attend Stanford Business School. For fifteen years he worked in New York for general Foods (eventually becoming a Vice President) while writing nights and weekends, In 1992 he became a full-time writer. Currently he lives in California. Gioia has published three books of poems, Daily Horoscope (1986), The Gods of Winter (1991), and Interrogations at Noon (2001), which won the American Book Award. He is also the author of Can Poetry Matter? (1992; reprinted 2002). He has edited a dozen anthologies of poetry and fiction. A prolific critic and reviewer, he is also a frequent commentator on American culture for BBC Radio. He recently completed Nosferatu (2001), an opera libretto for composer Alva Henderson.
Nina Revoyr was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a white American father, and grew up in Tokyo, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. She is the author of three novels. Nina has been an Associate Faculty member at Antioch University, a Visiting Professor at Cornell University, and the Remsen Bird Visiting Writer at Occidental College. She has also worked for more than a decade in the fields of child welfare and public education. Nina lives in Los Angeles with her English Springer Spaniel, Russell.
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