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Monthly Archives: January 2019

Claudia Rankine On Dismantling Racism And Prepping Cleveland’s Youth For Their Future

Credit: Katie McCullough Poet Claudia Rankine, born 56 years ago in Jamaica, returned to the city of her first college teaching post to kick off a community read of her slender, seminal book, Citizen: An American Lyric. “In a sense, I am home,” she told a Cleveland audience. “My husband grew up here. My time here was very important. I met my husband at Mac's Backs-Books on Coventry and I had my very first teaching job here.” The crowd, gathered in the Parma-Snow auditorium of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, cheered this bibliophilic beginning to romance. Rankine, a Yale University professor and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, saw her first book, Nothing in Nature is Private, published in 1994 by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Filmmaker... Read More →

“A World Built On Bondage”: Anisfield-Wolf Authors To Close 2019 Virginia Festival Of The Book

For the second consecutive year, Anisfield-Wolf award-winning authors will close the Virginia Festival of the Book. On March 24, two maestros of fiction – Esi Edugyan (Washington Black) and John Edgar Wideman (American Histories) – will join poet Rita Dove to discuss how their historically-attuned writings pierce the legacies of racism. Dove, an Anisfield-Wolf juror and the University of Virginia Commonwealth Professor of English, will moderate. She also led the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf panel at the Virginia festival, which movingly addressed the response of artists to racial violence, particularly the white supremacist mayhem in Charlottesville in August 2017. Anisfield-Wolf winners of that year – Tyehimba Jess, Peter Ho Davies, Margot Lee Shetterly, plus Dove –... Read More →

Author Claudia Rankine Brings “Citizen” To Cleveland January 23

Claudia Rankine and her “slender, musical book that arrives like a thunderclap” are coming to Cleveland, the first major literary event of the year. Thanks to the Big Read of the National Endowment for the Arts and the moxie of the staff at Cleveland’s Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, residents of Cuyahoga County will have eight weeks to soak up the brilliance of Citizen: An American Lyric. The book, which reached the New York Times bestseller list in 2014, is “a well-timed amalgam of poetry, essays and Serena Williams analysis,” according to Boris Kachka in Vulture. It is poised to launch a thousand local conversations. “Citizen,” as critic Parul Sehgal writes, “is an anatomy of American racism in the new millennium.” Megan Thompson, special projects manager for... Read More →

N. Scott Momaday Named 2019 Recipient of the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize

N. Scott MomadayN. Scott Momaday, a captivating storyteller long considered "the dean of Native American letters," is the new recipient of the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize. Established in 2016, the young prize honors artists, authors, educators, filmmakers, historians, and scientists "whose body of work has advanced our collective understanding of the indomitable American spirit." Momaday is its third honoree. Born a Kiowa 83 years ago in Lawton, Oklahoma, Momaday is an artist, essayist, novelist and professor who identifies first as a poet. He accepted the Anisfield-Wolf lifetime achievement award in September. His 1969 novel, House Made of Dawn, won a Pulitzer Prize and ushered in a new chapter of American literature that explored contemporary indigenous lives. “I am truly honored to be named... Read More →

10 Gems From 2018 That Deserve A Spot On Your 2019 Reading List

As we bid adieu to 2018, allow us to shine a last, lingering reading light on ten highlights: the year’s titles from Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners.  It should surprise no one that several are already acclaimed as the best-of-the-year. All are worth reading. “American Histories: Stories” by John Edgar Wideman  In the latest literary stroke from an American master, these 21 short stories “are linked by astringent wit, audacious invention and a dry sensibility,” according to one critic. Another calls them “irresistible” and “profoundly moving.” The first, “JB & FD” imagines conversations between John Brown and Frederick Douglass. Another tale takes up with Jean-Michel Basquiat. Still another, “Williamsburg Bridge,” rests with a man contemplating... Read More →
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