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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Four Poets On How Trauma And Conflict Inform Their Work

Minneapolis, MN -- When the poet Ken Chen put together a discussion called “Mapping New Territories: Diasporic Writers from Regions of Conflict,” he knew the four artists he invited would be surprising in their range and moving in combination. “The world is larger and more politicized than the regular American literary scene,” observed Chen, executive director of the New-York-based Asian American Writers Workshop.  His wry understatement served as coda to a powerful panel that attracted more than 120 listeners at the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference. Begun in 1991, AAWW describes itself as “a safe community space and an anti-racist counterculture, incubating new ideas and interpretations of what it means to be both an American and a global... Read More →

HBO To Bring Marlon James’ Brief History Of Seven Killings To The Screen

The cable network renowned for ambitious storytelling has optioned the rights to Marlon James' latest novel, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year in fiction.  The book paints a complex portrait of Jamaica, hinged on the1976 assassination attempt on reggae legend Bob Marley and told in more than 30 distinct narrative voices. James will adopt the script along with Eric Roth, who won an Academy Award in 1994 for the screenplay of "Forrest Gump." No premiere date has been released. James, an English professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., will take a yearlong sabbatical to concentrate on the adaptation. He told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that transitioning his work to the small screen represents an opportunity for more character exposition. “There are some... Read More →

Education Trumps Stereotypes: A Cleveland Student’s Perspectives On Islam

Maria Pineda (front) with her Saint Martin de Porres classmates outside the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf ceremony by Maria Pineda For centuries, Christians have stereotyped Muslims and I, for most of my 17 years, have stereotyped them too, especially after 9/11. I am a senior of Saint Martin De Porres High School and I grew up with Islamophobia, fear of people who practice Islam.  But this year I was assigned a capstone project that I focused on Muslim life in America, because I was curious about this group that frightened me. I had believed some of the most heinous stereotypes: that Muslim men beat their wives and that all Muslims were dangerous. To me, the headscarves worn by some Islamic women looked suspicious. A year of research upended my attitudes about Islam. Now, I am offended when... Read More →

Toni Morrison Returns With “God Help The Child,” Remains Wickedly Entertaining

At 84, Toni Morrison is full of reflection on her successes and incidents where she might request a do-over.    "It's not profound regret," she told NPR's Terry Gross. "It's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on." Morrison's press tour for her eleventh novel, God Help the Child, has been full of little fascinating admissions like this. (My favorite parts of the recent lengthy New York Times profile are the quick revelations that Morrison has never once worn jeans and that she considers sleeping on ironed sheets one of life's greatest luxuries.)   Her vulnerability is heightened during the NPR interview as she riffs on the pains and shifts that accompany older adulthood. As she has aged, her circle has become smaller; as a... Read More →

Professor Adam Banks On The Link Between Funk And Technology

In a warm lecture hall, University of Kentucky professor Adam Banks bounced and spoke with the cool cadence of a spoken-word poet, dropping gems on technology, funk and black freedom.  Born and raised in Cleveland, Banks returned to the city to argue that Stevie Wonder’s 1972 album, “Talking Book,” is a master key to black rhetoric, literacy, innovation and contemporary engagements with technology. As he stood on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, blocks from the John Hay High School he attended as a teen, Banks seemed keenly aware of geography and beginnings as he performed his presentation: "Talking Back to the Book: Critical Digital Literacies in African American Rhetorical Traditions." He called Wonder's work "a funk sermon," an infusion of new technologies... Read More →

Meet Our 2015 Winners

The Cleveland Foundation today announced the winners of its 80th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. The 2015 recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity are: • Jericho Brown, The New Testament, Poetry • Marilyn Chin, Hard Love Province, Poetry• David Brion Davis, Lifetime Achievement• Richard S. Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, Nonfiction• Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings, Fiction “The new Anisfield-Wolf winners heighten our perceptions on race and diversity,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who chairs the jury. “This year, we honor ground-breaking research into the lives of specific families enslaved on two New World plantations, a tour-de-force... Read More →
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