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Author Archives: Tara Jefferson

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 →

Anisfield-Wolf Authors To Close 2018 Virginia Book Festival With Panel On Racism And Reflections On Charlottesville

  Coming off a successful year of literary prizes, three of the 2017 recipients of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards will reconvene for a closing panel session at the Virginia Festival of the Book.  Peter Ho Davies, author of The Fortunes and recipient of the 2017 Chautauqua Prize; Tyehimba Jess, author of Olio and recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction. They will be joined by jury member Rita Dove, who will share their writing and insights about race and culture, with particular focus on the August 2017 events that took place in Charlottesville: This... Read More →

LISTEN: Karan Mahajan Interviewed On Professional Book Nerds Podcast

At the tail end of Cleveland Book Week, Adam Sockel and Jill Grunenwald, hosts of the "Professional Book Nerds" podcast, interviewed Karan Mahajan, our 2017 co-winner for fiction. Their conversation centered on Mahajan's award-winning "The Association of Small Bombs," the difficulties of writing about terrorism, and the proliferation of books on the subject after 9/11. The podcast is a production of OverDrive, the leading app for eBooks and audiobooks available through public libraries and schools, headquartered in Cleveland. In the weekly podcast, hosts Sockel and Grunenwald chat about the best books they've read, give personalized recommendations, and share about upcoming releases across genres. Dive into their 30-minute conversation with Mahajan here below. Read More →

WATCH: Poets From Twelve Literary & Performative Arts Bring Anisfield-Wolf To Public Transit

One idea to make the morning commute more bearable for Clevelanders? Add a bit of poetry. That theory was tested this past September as local poets from Twelve Literary and Performative Arts set up shop on RTA platforms across the city to perform samples from Anisfield Wolf authors for the duration of Cleveland Book Week. Riders heard snippets from Jericho Brown's "The New Testament" and Marilyn Chin's "Hard Love Province," along with five other authors and original works from the local poets. These informal poetry readings were an expansion of the Inter|Urban public art project, a 19-mile stretch of vibrant literary-inspired murals and photo installations along the RTA's Red Line. Recently, the project expanded into University Circle with a mural inspired by Tyehimba Jess... Read More →

Andrew Solomon’s “Far From The Tree” Finds A New Life On The Big Screen

A still from the new film, "Far from the Tree" Four years after Andrew Solomon took home the 2013 Anisfield-Wolf nonfiction prize for “Far from the Tree,” his work is finding a new medium: film.  Next month, the documentary version from Emmy award-winning filmmaker Rachel Dretzin will premiere at DOC NYC, the nation's largest documentary-focused film festival. The response has been strong enough to add a second showing. The 90-minute film, also called “Far From the Tree,” uses the same scaffolding as the book, embedding viewers in the lives of parents whose children fit into disparate identities: deafness, autism, and dwarfism, along with seven others.  “All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are... Read More →

REVIEW: “Sing Unburied Sing” Fits Perfectly Into Jesmyn Ward’s Canon Of Southern Literature

The pages of Jesmyn Ward's third novel, "Sing, Unburied, Sing," smell of Mississippi. Set in the same fictional town, Bois Sauvage, as her 2011 National Book Award-winning novel, “Salvage the Bones,” her latest fiction returns to tell again of family bonds, tested by unresolved trauma and unrelenting Southern poverty. She undergirds the sense of place with a seven-line epigraph from Derek Walcott’s “The Gulf.” At the heart of “Sing” is Jojo, a 13-year-old narrator focusing on his budding manhood. His role model? Pop, whose days are spent taking care of his cancer-stricken wife, Mam, Jojo’s toddler sister Kayla, and to a lesser extent, his daughter Leonie, Jojo’s mother. Ward, a Mississippian and Tulane University professor, excels with a narrative that knits... Read More →

Cleveland Book Week Highlights: Isabel Allende Speaks At The City Club Of Cleveland

During Cleveland Book Week, the incomparable Isabel Allende joked at age 75 about her new boyfriend, and about her approach to literature: "I've been writing for 35 years and I have no idea how I do it. I don't have an idea of what the book is about until it's published and I read the reviews," she quipped in a talk on life and literature at the City Club of Cleveland. She begins each book on January 8, commemorating the day she sat down at her kitchen table -- a stymied 40-year-old exile -- to begin a letter to her century-old grandfather. That letter poured out of her until it became The House of the Spirits, which launched Allende onto a global stage. It led to her being named this year’s Anisfield-Wolf recipient for lifetime achievement. "Having a sacred day to start... Read More →

Cleveland Book Week Highlights: Tyehimba Jess At Karamu House For A Poetry “Clapback”

Tyehimba Jess came home to Karamu House to lift up “Olio,” his magnificently engineered collection of poems that explore black voices in the decades from Civil War times to the start of World War I. Many of the poems can be read from back to front, at a slant and via every other line, in a welter of sense-making and sensibility. A sold-out crowd flocked to the historic theater during Cleveland Book Week to hear Jess showcase the historic voices that flow through every page of "Olio,"  which won both an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.  He used a screen projector to show how the works unfold multiple meanings in varied directions. As preamble, two artists from Twelve Literary and Performative Arts  -- Mary Barrett and Damien McClendon -- recited their explosive... Read More →
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