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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Poet Joshua Bennett Offers Electric Spoken Word Experience At Kent State University

Poet Joshua Bennett adjusted the mic stand at Kent State University. “I was raised Baptist,” he warned the audience in Oscar Ritchie Hall. “I need energy from you. I’m open to any and all forms of enthusiasm.” Dressed in dark skinny jeans, a cranberry sweater vest and Oxford shirt, Bennett steadied himself and spoke of his recent discovery of Lucille Clifton’s poetry. Using the last stanza of Clifton’s “Won’t You Celebrate With Me,” he began his poem, “Say it, Sing it, as the Spirit Leads,” written in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict: “Come, celebrate with me. Every day something has tried to kill me and failed.” A special guest of KSU's Wick Poetry Center, the man from Yonkers, N.Y. has entered the national conversation during the past three... Read More →

Whoopi Goldberg’s Directorial Debut Honors Moms Mabley

When Whoopi Goldberg made plans to revive her one-woman Broadway show on Moms Mabley, she ran into a problem: few people  remembered the comedy pioneer, who died in 1975. Goldberg shelved the show and switched to making a documentary on Mabley and her place in American culture. "She loved to tell stories," Goldberg told ABC's Good Morning America. "There's something about Moms, in finding that she had such a large part in civil rights, that she was the first female stand-up, and how funny she was—the jokes stand up to today."  Born Loretta Mary Aikin in the Brevard N.C., of 1894, she was one of 16 children.  Loretta ran away to Cleveland at age 14, joined a traveling minstrel show, and came out as a lesbian at age 27. She became one of the most successful performers on the... Read More →

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalists Raise Awareness Of Women’s Oppression

"We have all won the lottery of life," Sheryl WuDunn said she criss-crossed the stage during her recent appearance at Kent State University's presidental speakers series. Her husband and co-presenter, Nicholas Kristof, sat off to the side and nodded in agreement. "Once you have most of your material needs met, as most of us sitting here have, there are few things that actually elevate your level of happiness, and one of those things is contributing to a cause larger than yourself." Co-authors of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, WuDunn and Kristof are a powerhouse couple. The pair won the Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for their coverage of China's Tiananmen Square protests; Kristof went on to win an individual Pulitzer in 2006 for his Dafur genocide coverage... Read More →

Why Can’t Superheroes Be Muslim?

Credit: Marvel Comics Marvel Comics, home to some of the world’s most recognizable superheroes, has widened diversity among its trademark characters with the announcement of its newest superhero -- Kamala Khan, a Muslim-American Jersey teen with shape-shifting abilities. Khan will make her debut in early 2014. Khan's fascination with Marvel superhero Carol Danvers leads her to adopt the same secret identity: Ms. Marvel. Editor Sana Amanat used her own American coming-of-age as the basis of the new series. "We strive to show the diverse world that exists out of our window," she said. "[The series is] to show that outsiders don't exist -- we're all insiders." Axel Alonso, Marvel's editor-in-chief, called the addition a sign of the times. "The Marvel universe is best when it reflects... Read More →

“Your Words Have Changed My Life”: Dayton Literary Peace Prize Ceremony Salutes Literary Heavyweights

Pictured, from left to right: Andrew Krivak, Andrew Solomon, Wendell Berry, Tim O’Brien, Maaza Mengiste, Gilbert King, Adam JohnsonPhoto credit: Andy Snow The potency of literature went on vivid display in early November when readers gathered around the writers who won this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prizes. They started with an intense and intimate two-hour session at Sinclair Community College in downtown Dayton. “I need to give a shout-out to Wendell Berry, whose ‘The Gift of Good Land’ was one of the most important books of my life,” boomed Sinclair President Steven Lee Johnson, turning to the celebrated Kentucky author in praise of the 1981 essay collection, one of Berry’s 50 titles. A bit later, a woman in a pink sweater rose, lifted her chin to Berry and fiercely... Read More →

Author Kirk W. Johnson On The Fight To Help Iraqi Allies Left Behind

At 32, Kirk W. Johnson is a veteran of a particularly harrowing kind of politics. A soft-spoken and reluctant activist, he met an auditorium full of high school students in downtown Cleveland on a mild November evening. Together, they reflected on his story, and his new book: “To Be A Friend is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind.” The title derives from an observation by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. As America pulled out of Vietnam, Kissinger noted dryly that being an enemy of the U.S. could be dangerous, but being a friend could be fatal. Still, “within a few years, nearly a million people came here from Southeast Asia and have become a critical part of our nation’s fabric,” Johnson said. “Some are members of Congress now.” The... Read More →

VIDEO: Junot Diaz On Winning An Anisfield-Wolf Award For “The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao”

Fresh off the paperback release of his newest work, This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz swung by Cleveland State University in October for its Cultural Crossings seminar. We caught up with our 2008 fiction winner for his reflections on winning an Anisfield-Wolf award. "It puts you in remarkably excellent company," Diaz said, and we couldn't agree more.  2008 Winner Junot Diaz Speaks On Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo. Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Professor Debunks Myths About The Harem

Giulio Rosati (1858-1917), The Harem dance In the harem, women did not go naked. Nor did they wear flimsy, see-through harem pants. Despite the panting Western imagination, so memorably examined by Edward Said in his 1978 book “Orientalism,” the classic Western fantasy of the harem never existed in fact, reports Lisa Nielson, the Anisfield-Wolf scholar at Case Western Reserve University. “The harem is the symbol of the Orient – women lounging, indolent, beautiful, passive objects,” Nielson said during an October lecture on “Improvisation and Transgression: Musicians of the Harem,” given for the Baker-Nord Center on Humanities at Case. In the artistic imagination of Western painters, harems contained reliable tropes: feathers, the hookah, an exotic despot, unclothed women... Read More →

VIDEO: Wole Soyinka On Winning A Lifetime Achievement Award

At the conclusion of this year's ceremony, a number of Nigerians in attendance approached our lifetime achievement winner Wole Soyinka, for a chance to get close to the man they admired. A few bowed in his presence. He returned their kindness, speaking with a few before being whisked away to the book signing. We spoke with Soyinka to hear his thoughts on being honored for a lifetime of work and what it means to get that type of reception at this point in his career:   2013 Lifetime Achievement Winner Wole Soyinka from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo. Read More →
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