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Monthly Archives: August 2014

“What’s It Like To Work With A Bunch Of Black Kids?”

BY SARAH MARCUS This post originally appeared in Luna Luna magazine and is reprinted here with permission. All students named in this essay are at least 18 years of age and have given their consent. It’s 4:30 and we are sitting around on the floor of the dirty hallway outside of my “cloffice,” which is literally a very small utility closet that I joke about doing yoga in each morning. We are using the paper cutter and several children’s-sized, safe, “microbiotic” scissors, preparing “pocket poems” for National Poetry Month. I am in charge of posting poems all around the school next week, so I offered extra credit to any seniors in my Creative Writing class who wanted to help. Anthony grabs the paper cutter and insists on cutting too much card stock at one time. He... Read More →

Poetry Becomes An Outlet For Cleveland Teens

For James LeVan, a 16-year-old Cleveland student at Glenville High School, police brutality became top of mind early this year. He witnessed an uncomfortable interaction between a young Cleveland man and a police officer. LeVan said he did not know the victim and didn't feel comfortable getting involved, but the incident stuck with him. "It seemed like [the police officer] was harassing him for no reason," LeVan said. "It didn't make sense." A scholar in the Fatima Center’s Summer Institute, Le Van channeled his confusion into a poem, "The Mind of a White Cop," in which he speculates about the thinking of a hypothetical white police officer on his daily beat. Poetry writing was part of the Summer Institute, said Director Apryl Buchanan, with an emphasis on the works on Langston... Read More →

Ta-Nehisi Coates Presents “Case For Reparations” At City Club Of Cleveland

Photo credit: Donn Nottage Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, walked to the lectern at the City Club of Cleveland and managed to distill two years of work on "The Case for Reparations" into an eight-word thesis: "What you have taken should be given back." It's time, he argues, for America's moral reckoning with the legacy of slavery. For Coates, 38, the spotlight has never been brighter. His 15,000-word article in The Atlantic, buttressed by original research, an extensive bibliography and film clips, broke the record for single-day traffic on the magazine’s website when it was published May 21. Coates took comic Stephen Colbert's jabs on "The Colbert Report." At MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry invited Coates onto her eponymous show, while Bill... Read More →

Anthony Marra Brings His New Author Magic To Cleveland September 10

Anthony Marra startled the literary world in 2013 with his stunner of a debut, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. His fresh, Chechnya-inspired book won this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and will bring its author to Cleveland for the first time. He follows in the footsteps of Iraq War veteran Kevin Powers, who spoke last year about his own war novel, “The Yellow Birds” on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.  Marra, 30, will speak and read at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 10, in the intimate setting of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case. "Wars shatter families, relationships, even stories," Marra has said. "But Constellation is less a story about war than a story about ordinary people rebuilding their lives during and in the aftermath of war. It's a... Read More →

“Poetry Is An Island” Documentary Hits The Mark On Derek Walcott And His Beloved St. Lucia

The melodic beckoning of Caribbean steel-pan drum greeted guests at the Midwestern premier of Dutch filmmaker Ida Does' Derek Walcott documentary, "Poetry Is An Island." The title, and inspiration for the film, came from Walcott's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. A dozen years later, Walcott won an Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement award. Karamu House actor Cornell Calhoun III brings Derek Walcott's "Dream on Monkey Mountain" to life at the recent screening of "Poetry Is An Island." Photo credit | Frank Mixson Jointly hosted by the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and Karamu House, the afternoon began with Karamu actors staging a powerful 15-minute excerpt from Walcott's 1970 play, "Dream on Monkey Mountain." Karamu last produced the drama in 2006, when it was... Read More →

Explore 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award Winning Titles At Cleveland Public Library’s Brown Bag Book Club

On the cusp of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony, join awards manager Karen R. Long for a personal introduction to the titles being honored this year. Long will offer a speed date with each book, and an introduction to the Lifetime Achievement winners on Wednesday, September 3 at noon. Her presentation will kick off this fall’s Brown Bag Book Club at the Cleveland Public Library downtown. In subsequent weeks, the series will then break out to examine each of the 2014 award-winning books in turn. Beginning Wednesday, September 10, readers will gather at noon with expert librarians to consider the poetry, novel and nonfiction works in the spotlight this year:   The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka Wednesday, September 10 A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra... Read More →

Poet Adrian Matejka Comes To Cleveland Boxing Gym For “The Big Smoke” Reading

Poet Adrian Matejka mixed his love of boxing with his love of literature to produce “The Big Smoke,” 52 poems that center on Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion. The collection won this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. On September 10, Matejka will bring his words to the Cleveland canvas of the Old Angle Boxing Gym while boxer Roberto Cruz, 11, and Corey Gregory, 42, will each demonstrate the sweet science in separate demonstration bouts. We are proud to collaborate with Old Angle owner Gary Horvath and Dave Lucas of Brews + Prose to welcome the Clark Avenue neighborhood, the boxing community and local literati for a memorable night of sport and poetry. The evening begins at 7 p.m. and is... Read More →

Olympian Greg Louganis Speaks To City Club On First Day Of Gay Games 9

Photo credit: Donn Nottage A beaming and gracious Greg Louganis absorbed two standing ovations at the City Club of Cleveland, a gay pride flag at his left shoulder. City Club Executive Director Dan Moulthrop believes this was the first time the pride flag has stood on the dais of the free speech forum in its 102-year history. A few hours before Louganis helped kick off Gay Games 9, the Olympic gold medal diver answered questions from a sold-out audience and Ronald B. Richard, the president of the Cleveland Foundation, the first presenting sponsor in the games’ 32 year history. Louganis, 54, forfeited millions of dollars in sponsorship in 1994 by coming out as an HIV-positive gay man at Gay Games 4 in New York. Only Speedo stood by the athlete who won multiple gold medals in the Los... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Partners With Fatima Family Center For Summer Of Discovery

“Today I will be reciting my poem, 'The Mind of a White Cop,'" said James LeVan, 16, as he introduced his work during the closing ceremony of the Teen Leadership Program at the Fatima Family Center in Cleveland. LeVan recited in a deep, law enforcement voice:  Oh no! 6 black kids doing the same handshake I should probably call for backup No, I could just shoot them and say it was "self-defense" I'll be in jail a night or two but I'll be off eventually It's a nice feeling to know I can get away with anything One by one, the remaining 32 participants walked to the front of the gym to recite poems and read essays they created over the summer. Fatima Center Director LaJean Ray smiled broadly from the sidelines.  The facility, nestled in Cleveland's historic Hough neighborhood... Read More →
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