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Author Archives: Tara Jefferson

Second Annual Cleveland Book Week Kicks Off September 5

For a second year, Cleveland becomes a national literary destination during Cleveland Book Week, an extended celebration of books and the people who love them. “Clevelanders will find all kinds of alluring on-ramps this year,” said Karen R. Long, manager of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. “We’ve aligned with MOCA’s Art Book & Zine Fair and renewed our partnerships with Cleveland Flea and Public Square. We’re heading into a memorable bibliophilic week.” From September 5-9, join us as we read, listen, gather to discuss books and ideas and hear from some of the best authors in the world, including all five 2017 Anisfield-Wolf award recipients, plus past winner Colson Whitehead. Cleveland Book Week Schedule Tuesday, September 5 Cleveland Book Week Launch Public... Read More →

Bringing Personal Authenticity To The Classroom

The Lavender Graduation is an annual celebration that occurs on numerous campuses across the country, where graduating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied students are formally recognized and celebrated for their accomplishments. Last month, Anisfield-Wolf SAGE Fellow Lisa Nielson was honored during Case Western Reserve University's ceremony with the Prizm Award, which honors faculty and staff members significant contribution to the LGBTQ+ community. Her acceptance speech is reprinted here with permission.  In thinking about what I wanted to say this evening, I naturally gravitated to my identity as a teacher and scholar. To be effective as both, one also needs to be a storyteller. We connect to information and one another through our own experiences and the shared... Read More →

Dance Performance Inspired By “Hidden Figures” Premiering In Cleveland

Photo by Robert Muller Attendees at the Cleveland Foundation's annual meeting May 10 got a colorful taste of literature in motion. The Tri-C Creative Arts Dance Academy previewed their work, "Hidden," a vibrant period piece inspired by Margot Lee Shetterly’s “Hidden Figures,” our 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Award winner for nonfiction.   Now this coming Friday and Saturday, the academy will present their 2017 Spring Dance Concert, performing “Hidden” in its entirety.    The Creative Arts Dance Academy is a year-round dance program for students ages 4 – 17, and it’s quickly becoming a premier center for dance education in Greater Cleveland. The Cleveland Foundation, our parent organization, supported the expansion of the dance academy’s programming with a $300,000 grant... Read More →

“Good Luck Soup” Documentary Earns National Broadcast For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

  Set a reminder for the national broadcast premiere of “Good Luck Soup,” a 2016 documentary which tracks the multigenerational story of the Hashiguchi family and the ramifications of the Japanese interment during World War II. The film features a mesmerizing Cleveland family and became a breakout hit at the Cleveland International Film Festival, where it was the Anisfield-Wolf featured movie last year. Filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi centers “Good Luck Soup” on his grandmother, the 91-year-old matriarch Eva Hashiguchi, who spent three years in an Arkansas internment camp as a teen. Through interviews, historical footage and personal mementos, Hashiguchi chronicles three generations of Asian American life in the aftermath of that deprivation of liberty for some 140,000... Read More →

REVIEW: t’ai freedom ford’s “how to get over” Is An Urgent Reckoning With The Past

how to get over  -- the debut poetry collection from t’ai freedom ford -- is part instruction manual, part black culture guidebook and part handing the mic to everyone from Harriet Tubman to Rodney King. “Every single word I write is under the auspices of my ancestors,” ford declares.  The Cave Canem graduate gives them their say in 57 poems covering nearly 250 years of pain and beauty. ford, who teaches English in a New York City high school, leans into poetry with urgency—read this and read it now. She divides her book into four sections – Live, Lie, Love, and Die – each building on the architecture of the segment before. The 16 poems that comprise “Die” are the strongest of the collection. If you pick up how to get over, read “autopsy of a not dead father... Read More →

REVIEW: Joshua Bennett’s “The Sobbing School” Is A Lesson In The Blues

Watching Joshua Bennett perform his poetry is something like watching a Baptist preacher deliver a Sunday sermon. Once on stage, his face grows serious, his hands move emphatically and he plays with volume and silence in his delivery, using both to drive the audience to a rousing “Amen.” The New York native captures that same fire in his poetry collection, “The Sobbing School.” Winner of the National Poetry Series, selected by Anisfield-Wolf author Eugene Gloria, Bennett's debut strikes a powerful blow on the first page and doesn’t let up. By calling forth figures such as Richard Wright, DMX, and Ella Fitzgerald, it’s a modern collection with a timeless quality. The title poem borrows its name from Zora Neale Hurston's essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," in... Read More →

REVIEW: Karan Mahajan’s “The Association of Small Bombs”

by Charles Ellenbogen This Anisfield-Wolf award winner is absolutely stunning. From its riveting opening pages until the truth of its conclusion, Karan Mahajan takes us through a stunning story of small bombs, both the ones used by terrorists and the ones encountered in everyday life. I think what’s new here is that Mahajan, as the perfectly designed cover demonstrates, connects the bombs in ways we rarely get access to, let alone appreciate. What’s also new and both bold and necessary is that Mahajan takes us inside the lives of these terrorists. He accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making us, if not like them, then at least understand them, both on a personal and political level. It is in these sections that he asks the most difficult and urgent questions, and I hope... Read More →

Introducing Our Class Of 2017

The Cleveland Foundation today announced the winners of its 82nd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. The 2017 recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity are: • Isabel Allende, Lifetime Achievement • Peter Ho Davies, The Fortunes, Fiction • Tyehimba Jess, Olio, Poetry • Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs, Fiction • Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures, Nonfiction “The new Anisfield-Wolf winners broaden our insights on race and diversity,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who chairs the jury. “This year, we honor a breakthrough history of black women mathematicians powering NASA, a riveting novel of the Asian American experience, a mesmerizing, poetic exploration of forgotten black musical... Read More →

New Documentary “The Revival” Gives Queer Black Women The Mic

Four of the women from "The Revival." Photo credit: TheRevivalMovie.com If self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" Audre Lorde were alive today, you might find her celebrating with the women of "The Revival," a salon-style poetry tour dedicated to amplifying the voices and experiences of queer women of color.  The tour is the brainchild of Jade Foster, a poet in Brooklyn, N.Y. and founder of Cereus Arts, an artists’ collective. It's October 2012 outing was immortalized in the documentary, "The Revival: Women and the Word," making its Northeast Ohio debut this month at the Cleveland International Film Festival. It is the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards community film this year. "The Revival" women are a mix of 20-to-40something poets, singers and songwriters, all... Read More →

Coretta Scott King’s Posthumous Memoir Details The Woman Beyond The King Name

Coretta Scott King begins her posthumous new memoir with a terrific metaphor: "Most people know me as Mrs. King. The wife of, the widow of, the mother of, the leader of. . .Makes me sound like the attachments that come with my vacuum cleaner."  When she died in 2006 at age 78, 12,000 people came to her eight-hour Georgia funeral, including four U.S. presidents. In this sweeping memoir "My Life, My Love, My Legacy" King details her rise from a restricted childhood in Marion, Alabama, to become one of the most visible leaders of the Civil Rights movement. But as King plainly states, most people were still unable to separate her legacy from her husband’s, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She writes that this never bothered her: "We did not have a his-and-hers mission. We were one... Read More →
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