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Author Archives: Tara Jefferson

REVIEW: Sarah M. Broom Brings New Orleans To Life With “The Yellow House”

The typical story set in New Orleans begins and ends somewhere in the French Quarter, but Sarah M. Broom’s meaty new memoir “The Yellow House” stretches our attention seven miles east, to the neighborhood where she and thousands of others live beyond the glitz of the city’s most famous district. Broken into four movements spanning nearly a century, “The Yellow House” is the story of connection, longing and migration. Who belongs to a city, Broom asks over 300 pages. Whose stories are worth capturing and telling? She begins her family’s story with the title dwelling. The house sat for 50 years in New Orleans East, more than 40,000 acres developed in the 1950s. It was built on what was “largely cypress swamp, its ground too soft to support trees or the weight of three... Read More →

N. Scott Momaday Honored With Dayton Literary Peace Prize

At 85, N. Scott Momaday – considered the dean of Native American literature – is attracting renewed accolades for his life’s work. In 2018, he won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and entered the National Native American Hall of Fame. In May, he received the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize and this November will be feted with a Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The poet, novelist and essayist has won the Dayton organization’s Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. It is named for the celebrated U.S. diplomat who played an instrumental role in negotiating the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. “If we are to understand the synthesis of literature and peace, we must first consider that the end of art is the definition of the human... Read More →

The Free Black Women’s Library Is A National Movement Uplifting Black Female Authors

Akinmowo in 2015, the beginnings of the Free Black Women's Library. In 2015, Brooklyn, New York-based artist OlaRonke Akinmowo lugged 100 books -- all written by black women -- to a brownstone stoop and launched the uncertain beginnings of her newest project, the Free Black Women’s Library.  Dressed in a black tank top and gold leggings, Akinmowo danced barefoot in front of her collection “in honor of the sacred beauty” of these authors. “Black women’s words have saved my life, healed me, nurtured me and provided me with the comfort that I’ve needed in every rough moment of my life,” Akinmowo wrote in an Instagram post commemorating that anniversary, “and I wanted to share that fact/testimony.”  As the first patron arrived -- an 8-year-old girl in a vibrant,... Read More →

Incarcerated Youth Connect To Literature, Get Published Through Writers In Residence Program

Anisfield-Wolf Fellow Zachary Thomas has sparked an idea that is igniting across Northeast Ohio. In 2016, as a sophomore at John Carroll University, Thomas pioneered a creative writing program for youth incarcerated in an Ohio juvenile detention center. Writers in Residence began as an idea to reduce recidivism by bringing adolescents behind bars together with college students to build long-lasting relationships and build up self-expression. The idea germinated from the example set by Carroll Ballers, an older student initiative using basketball as an entry point for fun, food and mentorship among the residents of juvenile detention facilities and undergraduates. Inside these centers, Thomas quickly learned that residents had few chances to write. Authorities allowed no pens or paper in... Read More →

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

Esi Edugyan (Washington Black) and John Edgar Wideman (American Histories) discuss the meanings of race, violence, and freedom, as explored in their acclaimed fiction. Edugyan and Wideman each received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for an earlier novel; they are accompanied in conversation with Award jury member Rita Dove. This discussion of their work, reflections on historic injustices, and writing that helps make the American story a complete story will be the official closing program of the Festival, and seeks to support and celebrate diversity while working towards understanding the invasive and structural roots of racism. Peter Hedlund/Virginia Humanities Eighteen months after the Unite the Right racist violence wracked Charlottesville, the 25th anniversary of the Virginia... Read More →

Jericho Brown’s New Poetry Collection “The Tradition” A Daring, Inventive Body Of Work

Jericho Brown recreates the cover of The Tradition. Photo by Brian Cornelius. Artwork by Lauren “Ralphi” Burgess. The cover of Jericho Brown’s new poetry collection, The Tradition, features a young black boy, perhaps 10 years old, surrounded in a lush field of flowers, ocean waves at his back. It’s beauty is evident, but it intimidated Brown when he first saw it. “It’s so gorgeous and it does speak directly to the poems,” he told The Rumpus. “I kept wondering, “Are these poems good enough for this goddamn cover?” Let that answer be an emphatic yes. This work, stitched together over 51 poems, is a meditation on grief, violence, fatherhood, trauma, sexuality and beauty. The Tradition is his third book, the follow-up to 2014’s The New Testament, which won the... Read More →

Interview with “Afterward” Director Ofra Bloch

“As a kid in Israel, my dream was to become a psychoanalyst and a filmmaker,” Ofra Bloch said in a telephone interview from her home in New York City. “Later on, I became a psychoanalyst but I never dared to go to filmmaking school. So when I decided to make a film, it was sheer chutzpah because I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t have any technical skills. But I knew what I wanted to see.” Her clear vision led her to make “Afterward,” a new documentary that explores the lingering and cross-cutting trauma embedded in generations of Germans, Israelis and Palestinians. The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards is sponsoring two screenings at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Six years ago, when Bloch, 69, began working on her first full length feature, she intended to center... Read More →

“Afterward,” New Film On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Premieres At The Cleveland International Film Festival

Afterward official photoJoin us for the Cleveland premiere of "Afterward," a 94-minute documentary from Jerusalem-born psychoanalyst Ofra Bloch that explores the lingering and cross-cutting trauma embedded in generations of Germans, Israelis and Palestinians. The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards is sponsoring the film at this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. Bloch, who lives in New York City, began making the documentary intending to focus on the second and third-generation descendants of the perpetrators of the Holocaust, her attempt to shed hostility she carried against Germans as a people. After filming began, however, she recognized her own prejudices – especially against Palestinians, a group she was raised to hate -- were preventing her from telling the full story. She expanded her scope to... Read More →

A Shelf of One’s Own – An Argument for Transgender Literature

  By Gabrielle Bychowski Sitting at my desk, I set down my copy of A Room of One's Own, looked over at the shelves of my library and asked myself: where is the transgender amidst all this literature? I think about Virginia Woolf's shelf where she saw no plays by women, where she had to search hard for women and the fiction they write, fiction written about women, or texts where women, their fiction and fiction about them are all entangled together. How can I constitute such a shelf of trans literature? What books could make up a shelf of the theories that bind transgender and literature together? I ask this question not just because Woolf asked hers, but because her query gives language for a question already inside me. Gabrielle Bychowski Like the dysphoria... 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 →
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