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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Young Poet Recites Toi Derricotte’s Poetry

We thoroughly enjoy when younger audiences immerse themselves in the work of poets who have come before them. In this video, a young poet recites Toi Derricotte's "For Black Women Who Are Afraid," and praises her work as a co-founder of Cave Canem, the literary home for black poetry.  For Black Women Who Are Afraid A black woman comes up to me at break in the writingworkshop and reads me her poem, but she says she can't read it out loud because there's a woman in a car on her way to work and her hair is blowing in the breeze and, since her hair is blowing, the woman must be white, and she shouldn't write about a white woman whose hair is blowing, because maybe the black poets will think she wants to be that woman and be mad at her and say she hates herself, and maybe they won't let... Read More →

We Would Pay Top Dollar Just To Hear Toni Morrison Speak

Anytime - and we do mean anytime – there is a new Toni Morrison interview or book or appearance, we pay attention. Not just because she is a 1988 Anisfield-Wolf winner, but because she is a literary treasure. She is 81 now, having spent roughly half her life as an author of note and with is comes the freedom and space to say exactly how she feels about any given topic.  She recently sat with a writer from the Daily Telegraph for an in-depth interview in advance of her latest work, a play, which opened in London this month. In it, she collaborates with director Peter Sellars and Rokia Traore to retell the story of "Othello," one of Shakespeare's most-known works, this time giving more depth to Desdemona, Othello's lover and wife.  In the incredibly rich interview, Morrison talks... Read More →

One Quote Explains Why We Love Zadie Smith

The press keeps coming for Zadie Smith, as her latest book, NW, will be hitting bookshelves in September. An excerpt from her latest book appeared in The New Yorker recently and Smith gave an open and honest interview about her writing process and her desire to have characters that are diverse. But there was one quote in particular that made us pause: Every time I write a sentence I’m thinking not only of the people I ended up in college with but my siblings, my family, my school friends, the people from my neighborhood. I’ve come to realize that this is an advantage, really: it keeps you on your toes. And it seems clear to me that these little varietals of voice and lifestyle (bad word, but I can’t think of another) are fundamentally significant. They’re not just decoration... Read More →

VIDEO: Nam Le’s Thoughts On Book Critics, Favorite Authors And Essentials Of Novel Writing

What annoys you most about book critics? If you could have a drink with any author, who would it be? Name a passage in one of your favorite books that you would rewrite if given the chance. These questions and more were lobbied to 2009 Anisfield-Wolf winner Nam Le as part of Tehelka's "A Byte Of..." video interview series. Check out Nam Le's responses above in the quick video. Read More →

VIDEO: Edwidge Danticat On Whether Art Is A Luxury Or Necessity

2005 Anisfield-Wolf winner Edwidge Danticat visited the Tavis Smiley show on PBS to discuss her latest work, Create Dangerously. She discusses the origins of the book's title, the difference between immigrant artists and American-born artists, and whether art should be considered a luxury or necessity. Read More →

Arnold Rampersad’s Peers Praise Him For Lifetime Achievement Win

Rampersad-2012-P For someone as storied as Arnold Rampersad, sometimes the best words of praise come not from awards jurors or book critics, but from colleagues who have worked side by side with you for years. Shelly Fisher Fiskin, who co-edited Oxford University Press’ Race and American Culture series with Rampersad, wrote that there are few people more deserving of an award than her longtime colleague: Fiskin writes: An extraordinarily elegant writer, a meticulous researcher, and a scholar gifted with the ability to focus on what matters most about any subject that he tackles, Arnold Rampersad richly deserves this honor. His biographies and his literary scholarship have had an enormous impact on our understanding of American culture, illuminating issues of race and racism in America in... Read More →

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc: “Stories Are Everywhere”

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc ...If you know where to look.  We enjoy getting writing advice from our winners because they're so impossibly good at telling stories. Whether the story is about a 13-year-old girl winning a spelling bee or a look at three Southerners who tried to reinvent themselves in the unfamiliar North, telling a compelling story is the focus.  2004 nonfiction winner Adrian Nicole LeBlanc knows her way around a good story. She was honored for her 2003 work "Random Family," a look at the decade-long immersion she spent tracing the lives of one Bronx family. Adapted from a presentation she gave at the Conference on Narrative Journalism, here's her technique for finding stories worth writing:  I like to insert myself in situations – identified as a journalist but not necessarily working on a... Read More →

Have You Been Butchering Your Favorite Author’s Name?

We're sticklers for learning how to pronounce all of our winners' names. We don't pat ourselves on the back for this; after all, it is their given name and making the effort to greet someone as they are customarily called is simply good manners. We can admit that some names are harder than others, based on the complexity of the ratio of vowels to consonants, but at rate, there might be some names that look disturbingly easy, but in fact will trip you up. Check out some of the names you think you've nailed, but really could use a lesson or two: Read More →

Biographer Arnold Rampersad Is The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Winner

Arnold Rampersad, our 2012 Anisfield-Wolf winner, has a special tie to the Cleveland area, where our awards are hosted every year. As one of the nation's definitive biographers, he has covered noted Cleveland resident Langston Hughes in detail, publishing two volumes of The Life of Langston Hughes, served as editor of Collected Poems of Langston Hughes and Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes. We are looking forward to his remarks at the 2012 ceremony in September! Here's a few tidbits about our 2012 lifetime achievement winner that you can chew on:  Rampersad is a 2010 National Humanities Medal winner, along with Anisfield-Wolf jury member Joyce Carol Oates. The committee honored him for his skills as a gifted biographer and literary critic. Rampersad also joins the long... Read More →

Huffington Post Reveals 50 Books Every African American Should Read – How Many AW Winners Made The List?

Gwendolyn BrooksHuffington Post's Black Voices rounded up 50 books the editors think every African American should read (they added on Twitter that of course the list has value to everyone, but these books focus primarily on the black experience in America). We were thrilled to see how many Anisfield-Wolf winners were on the list, proving to us once again that our winners stand out in the crowded literary field.  Gwendolyn Brooks "Annie Allen" (1949) Edwidge Danticat "Breath, Eyes, Memory" (1999) Chimamanda Adichie "Half Of A Yellow Sun" (2008) Ralph Ellison "Invisible Man" (1952) Edward P. Jones "The Known World" (2003)  Alex Haley "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" (1987) Toni Morrison "Song of Solomon" (1977), "Sula" (1973) and "The Bluest Eye" (1970) Langston... Read More →
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