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Monthly Archives: May 2015

REVIEW: “The Light Of The World” Is A Surprisingly Buoyant Portrait Of Grief

A 200-page book on the untimely death of a spouse hardly seems like it would make for light summer reading. But as I've devoured Elizabeth Alexander's new memoir, The Light of The World, I've discovered that there's beauty in loss, there's sparkle in remembrance. The poet lost her husband, painter and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus (pronounced Fee-kray Geb-reh-yess-oos) in April 2012, days after his 50th birthday. Their 15-year union produced two sons, Solomon and Simon, and a cozy life in Connecticut, where Alexander is a professor at Yale University. She composed "Praise Song for the Day" for President Obama's 2009 inauguration; a year later she won the 2010 Anisfield-Wolf lifetime achievement prize. Light does not begin with her husband's passing, with Alexander preferring we get to know the... Read More →

Marian Wright Edelman Brings Her Crusade To End Child Poverty To Cleveland

Photo by Donn R. Nottage Marian Wright Edelman—born 75 years ago in small-town Bennettsville, S.C.—was named for the great contralto Marian Anderson. The founder of the Children’s Defense Fund still lifts up her voice. During her third appearance at the City Club of Cleveland, Edelman peppered her talk with notions that seem boiled down over the decades: God did not make two classes of children. A nation that does not stand up for its children doesn’t stand for anything at all. I don’t know why we don’t do what we know. We don’t have a money problem. We have a morality problem. I want black kids and brown kids to see something in their future called college, not prison. These were no bromides. Edelman bolstered them with withering facts, expressing her four-decade... Read More →

Superheroes In Spandex: Jill Lepore’s Cultural Critique Meets Marvel Writer’s Rebuttal

Did Marvel get it right with A-Force, its latest contribution to the world of female superheroes? Not if you ask Jill Lepore, Harvard University history professor and author of last year’s well-reviewed The Secret History of Wonder Woman. In a recent op-ed for The New Yorker, Lepore called the Avenger-type squad "porn stars." "Maybe it’s not possible to create reasonable female comic-book superheroes, since their origins are so tangled up with magazines for men," writes Lepore, who won a 2006 Anisfield-Wolf prize for New York Burning. "True, they’re not much more ridiculous than male superheroes. But they’re all ridiculous in the same way." G. Willow Wilson, one of the creators of A-Force, responded on her Tumblr: "I imagine Dr. Lepore and I want the same thing: better, more... Read More →

Join Us At The Cleveland Public Library For A Summer Of Reading Anisfield-Wolf

The annual Anisfield-Wolf brown bag lunch series at the Cleveland Public Library takes a twist this year with a deep dive into the Anisfield-Wolf catalog.   Doctoral student Valentino Zullo of Kent State University will introduce Cleveland to Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners, both past and present. Zullo credits his mentor, Dr. Vera J. Camden, a professor of English at Kent State University, for teaching him the importance of conversation in literature. "It is through the sharing of stories that we are able to find relief from the outside world and learn to reimagine our role within it."   Beginning Wednesday, June 10, an in-depth discussion of each book will occur over the summer. The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award book discussions will take place at the Main Library, in the... Read More →

Isabel Wilkerson And Shonda Rhimes Team Up For FX Series Of “The Warmth Of Other Suns”

Which black actors might best portray Ida Mae Gladney, George Starling and Dr. Robert Pershing Foster, the three real-life protagonists of Isabel Wilkerson’s groundbreaking history of the Great Migration, “The Warmth of Other Sons"? A-list producer Shonda Rhimes likely has her pick of talent in the small screen adaptation of Wilkerson's meticulous nonfiction classic, which won a National Book Award and an Anisfield-Wolf prize in 2011. Shondaland Productions will bring "Warmth" to FX this fall, her company's first foray into cable programming. Writer/director Dee Rees of 2011's indie hit Pariah will write the script. Wilkerson, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter, spent 15 years researching the exodus of more than six million African Americans out of the South between 1910 and 1970. If... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Winners Fall On Both Sides Of PEN American Center’s Charlie Hebdo Award Controversy

More than 200 prominent authors—among them Anisfield-Wolf winners Junot Diaz and Kamila Shamsie—have publicly objected to the PEN American Center's decision to present French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo its Free Expression Courage award.  Gunmen aggrieved by the magazine’s depiction of Islam targeted the controversial Paris weekly in January and killed a dozen people. The signatories of an April letter to PEN argue that power and privilege must be considered when defining courageousness in satire: "The inequities between the person holding the pen and the subject fixed on paper by that pen cannot, and must not, be ignored." One of the critics is former PEN American president Francine Prose. Defending the decision, her successor, Andrew Solomon, co-wrote an op-ed for the... Read More →

Read Poet Jericho Brown’s Letter To CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Over Baltimore Coverage

"I want to hear you say there should be peaceful protests, not violent protests, in the tradition of Martin Luther King," CNN’s Wolf Blitzer lectured community activist Deray McKesson in a now infamous four-minute interview.   "You are suggesting that broken windows are worse than broken spines," McKesson answered, contrasting property damage with the injuries that killed Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody. Jericho Brown, winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year, recoiled at Blitzer’s distortion of King and decided to say so. His essay, “How Not to Interview Black People About Police Brutality,” is posted on the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog.   Read More →
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