Carol Muske-Dukes is founder of the PhD program in literature and creative writing at USC. She is the author of, among other books, the novel Life After Death and An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems. As a poet, she has received many awards, including a Witter Bynner Fellowship, a Guggenheim, an NEA Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill grant, the Dylan Thomas Poetry Award, and several Pushcart Prizes. Her collection of essays, Married to the Icepick Killer: A Poet in Hollywood, was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2002, and her most recent book of poems, Sparrow, was a finalist for a 2003 National Book Award. Her latest book is a novel, Channeling Mark Twain. She was selected to serve as California's 2008 poet laureate by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, charged with educating Californians about the many literary icons who have come from California and added to its cultural heritage.