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Author Archives: Tara Jefferson

Isabel Allende’s “The House of The Spirits” On Its Way To Hulu

Add Isabel Allende's groundbreaking first novel, "The House of the Spirits," to the golden age of television adaptations. Streaming giant Hulu has acquired the classic 1982 story, which has been translated into more than 35 languages. Allende began it at a low moment in her life when she was 40 years old and living in Venezuela.  This consummate Chilean story follows the Trueba family over four generations and catapulted its author to fame. Deeply personal, “The House of the Spirits” began as Allende’s farewell letter to her 100-year-old grandfather and incorporates elements of magical realism. In the 35 years since its publication, Allende has written more than 20 books, sold more than 70 million copies and become an international touchstone. Hulu is now seeking a writer and... Read More →

Natasha Trethewey Brings Passion And Pain To Poetry Reading At Kent State University

Natasha Trethewey signs books after her poetry reading at Kent State University, April 2018 Former U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey began her talk at Kent State University by claiming kinship with the audience. “I always feel slightly at home in Ohio,” she said. “It is the state that allowed my parents to get a marriage license in 1965, allowed me to be born legit in this country, even as our laws still rendered me persona non grata.” The newborn Trethewey arrived a year later in Gulfport, Mississippi, where her parents’ marriage was illegal under a national patchwork of anti-miscegenation laws. The couple met at Kentucky State College — Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough, a black woman fresh from Gulfport, and Eric Trethewey, a white Canadian who hitchhiked his way to campus... Read More →

Interview With Directors Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip On Their New Film, “Dawnland”

Dawnland co-directors Ben Pender-Cudlip (left) and Adam Mazo Boston-based filmmaker Adam Mazo is quick to admit that he knew little about Native populations growing up in Minnesota. He’s committed to changing that for future generations with “Dawnland,” the 90-minute documentary premiering this month at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The film centers on the decades of government policy that forced Native children from their families and into adoptive homes, foster care and boarding schools. The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards will sponsor three screenings. The idea for “Dawnland” was sparked from Mazo’s work on another film, “Coexist,” about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. “We were talking about how it felt wrong to not be teaching about genocide in this... Read More →

Introducing Our Class Of 2018

  The Cleveland Foundation today unveiled the winners of its 83rd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Marlon James, a 2015 Anisfield-Wolf honoree, made the announcement. The 2018 recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity are: Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor, Poetry N. Scott Momaday, Lifetime Achievement Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Fiction Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Nonfiction “The new Anisfield-Wolf winners deepen our insights on race and diversity,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., who chairs the jury. “This year, we honor a lyrical novel haunted by a Mississippi prison farm, a book of exceptional... Read More →

“Evicted” Author Matthew Desmond On Fixing America’s Broken Housing System

Photography by Michaelangelo's Photography Matthew Desmond thinks America can’t see itself clearly. “We’re the richest democracy with the worst poverty. There’s not another advanced society that has the kind of poverty we have,” the sociologist said as he paced the stage at the State Theater in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. Dressed casually in a black pullover, Desmond’s talk was the marquee event for One Community Reads, the three-month book club for Greater Cleveland residents to rally around “Evicted,” his Pulitzer prize-winning book on poverty and housing inequality. It is focused on two neighborhoods in Milwaukee and is subtitled “Poverty and Profit in the American City.” More than 2,000 came out to hear the Princeton University professor. Desmond spent more... Read More →

Poet Leila Chatti Named The Inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow At Cleveland State University Poetry Center

Leila Chatti, a poet who grew up in Michigan, will be the first Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Writing and Editing, beginning her appointment this fall at the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. She has dual citizenship in Tunisia and the United States. She was chosen from among almost 90 applicants. “I am drawn to this fellowship in particular because I almost did not become a writer,” Chatti explained in her application. “As a child, I loved books, but because I had never encountered any written by or about people like me, I didn’t believe I would be able to write them; I thought writing was an occupation for other kinds of people, and that, by extension, my experience — my story — was not worth telling. “It wasn’t until high school that I saw myself reflected on the... Read More →

Professor Heather Shotton On Native Identity And Representation

As the #MeToo movement surges on, elevating the national conversation around sexual assault and gender inequality, Professor Heather Shotton believes one crucial population is missing from the discussion. “Thirty-four percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetime,” Shotton told her audience at the University of Akron, “the highest per capita rate in the nation. The fact that Native voices are absent from [Me Too] is part of the problem.” Shotton’s delivery at the university’s Rethinking Race symposium was slow and measured, covering more than 400 years of Native American history in “Slurred Realities: Pocahontas, Misrepresentations, and Political Punchlines.” As part of the two-week forum, now in its eleventh year, Shotton was one of... Read More →

Poet Elizabeth Alexander Becomes New President Of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Anisfield-Wolf poet Elizabeth Alexander will be the next president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, becoming the first woman to head the nation’s largest foundation for the humanities. “All of the things that I’ve cared about my whole life and worked toward my whole life Mellon does,” Alexander told The New York Times. The author of six books and two collections of essays won the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement prize in 2010. A year earlier she recited an original poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” at President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Her latest book, “The Light of the World,” chronicled the sudden loss of her husband, painter and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus, and became a top book of 2015 for the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and other outlets... Read More →

REVIEW: “When They Call You A Terrorist” Takes Readers Inside The Black Lives Matter Movement

Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, is no stranger to resistance. Her searing new memoir, “When They Call You a Terrorist,” makes that plain. Khan-Cullors, along with organizers Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, created the call to action after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager Zimmerman killed as the adolescent walked alone back to his father’s home from a trip to a convenience store. The author was the one to punctuate their grief with a three-word hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter. Her story begins in Van Nuys, the largely Mexican Los Angeles neighborhood notorious for an overbearing police presence. Born third of four children, she writes of growing up as her mother worked... Read More →

New Anisfield-Wolf Fellowship Addresses Diversity In Publishing

In a nationally unique innovation, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards has partnered with the Cleveland State University Poetry Center to create a fellowship aimed at the lack of diversity in publishing. The Anisfield-Wolf Fellowship in Writing & Publishing is a two-year post-graduate position for an emerging writer. It will encompass time to work toward a first or second book and an opportunity to learn editing, publishing, literary programming, and community outreach. Through the creation of this fellowship, Anisfield-Wolf and the CSU Poetry Center hope to support writers from historically underrepresented communities. The Cleveland Foundation awarded $71,000 over two years to support the salary and benefits of the fellow at the poetry center’s literary press. “The... Read More →
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