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Author Archives: Tara Jefferson

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 →

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 →

Hear From Anisfield-Wolf Fellow Leila Chatti At Her Shaker Heights Poetry Reading

Mark your calendars for a newcomer to Cleveland's poetry scene -- poet Leila Chatti will be at Loganberry Books December 13 for an intimate reading of her new and celebrated poems.    Chatti, a dual citizen of Tunisia and the United States, became the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Writing and Editing at Cleveland State University's Poetry Center this fall, beating out nearly 90 other applicants. The newly created position was meant to develop a pipeline for a more diverse workforce in the U.S. publishing industry, which is 89 percent white.     "Once I was discouraged from writing early in my career for being too female and too Muslim, by those who were neither," she told the selection committee, "an instance of the systemic silencing in writing establishments and publishing... Read More →

“Sing Unburied Sing” Gets Its Own Mural In Cleveland

(from left to right) Katie Parland, Jesmyn Ward and Daniella Rini Uva. Photo by Alan Ashby Look closely at the multicolored mural in the old Irishtown Bend in Cleveland and you'll spot a small teal "JW" in the lower interior of an archway.    Author Jesmyn Ward initialed the mural inspired by her Anisfield-Wolf award-winning book, Sing Unburied Sing, during her second trip to Cleveland this year, thanks to a suggestion from the Cleveland Foundation’s Alan Ashby. She got an intimate tour by the artists themselves, Danielle Rini Uva and Katie Parland from Agnes Studio, who completed the mural one month prior for Phase II of the Inter|Urban public art project.   "We were basically tasked with doing four murals – two pillars split by a road," Uva said. "We liked the idea of... Read More →
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