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Anisfield-Wolf Community Blog

Finding Common Ground On Literacy

Two of every three Clevelanders read at the seventh-grade level or below – making 66 percent of adult Clevelanders functionally illiterate. This means it is hard to find employment, read a prescription bottle or discern a bus schedule. At the nonprofit Seeds of Literacy, 920 people last year walked through the doors – and only 48 people, or five percent, had a ninth-grade proficiency or better. Ninth-grade-proficiency is the minimum education required for almost all job-training programs. Cleveland exists in a literacy desert. As the... Read More →

LISTEN IN: Novelist Colson Whitehead Interviewed On Professional Book Nerds Podcast

This month, Adam Sockel and Jill Grunenwald, hosts of the "Professional Book Nerds" podcast, snagged a few moments with Colson Whitehead to discuss his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Underground Railroad.  Their conversation covered the origins of his book, how Whitehead views his book in relation to the incredible success it has achieved, race relations throughout American history and a dive into the music he listens to while writing. Whitehead, who won the 2002 Anisfield-Wolf prize for John Henry Days, is coming off one of his... Read More →

Novelist Peter Ho Davies Accepts 2017 Chautauqua Prize, Muses On Identity And Nuance In “The Fortunes”

Peter Ho Davies holds up the 2017 Chautauqua Prize while speaking about his book The Fortunes July 12, 2017 in the Hall of Philosophy. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR Peter Ho Davies – a gracious, wise and observant British-born fiction writer – welcomed a question about the title of his most recent work, “The Fortunes.” It won both the Chautauqua Prize and an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year. Tentatively called “Tell it Slant,” a reference both to Emily Dickenson and a racial slur against Asians, the edgy title pleased both Davies... Read More →

REVIEW: Zinzi Clemmons Is A Strong Voice To Watch With “What We Lose”

Viking, 207 pp, $22 In Zinzi Clemmons’ debut novel, “What We Lose,” grief shadows every page. But like Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Light of the World,” another examination of life amid a death, it is compelling.     A loosely autobiographical story, this book is about the pain of losing a mother. Like her protagonist Thandi, Clemmons, 32, is the child of a South African mother and African-American father, born and raised in Philadelphia with summers and long vacations spent in Johannesburg. And just like Thandi, Clemmons left... Read More →

In “Surpassing Certainty” Janet Mock Pays The Lessons Of Her Twenties Forward

Simon & Schuster, 256 pp. $24.99 In the midst of the book tour for her second memoir, "Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me," Janet Mock spoke of the pitfalls of being labeled a transgender activist. “There’s a burden of responsibility for me to show up correct — in my head, if I don’t do it right, then I’ll get shut out, and then other trans women of color will be shut out,” she told the New York Times. “I’m still grappling with all of that.” If her second book is any indication, Mock, 34, is working... Read More →

REVIEW: Tyehimba Jess’ “Olio” Puts Him In A Genre Of His Own

by Charles Ellenbogen Every once in a while, someone comes along – think Garrison Keillor, Richard Pryor, Spalding Gray – who defies any of our conventional notions of genre, so something has to be invented for them. Meet the newest member of the group – Tyehimba Jess. Jess, who this spring won both an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a Pulitzer for poetry, has definitely written a book that contains pieces that seem like poetry, but even that term, as expansive as it is, seems limiting here. This book also contains artwork, posters... Read More →

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... 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... 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... 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... Read More →
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