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Tag Archives: 2014

READ: Adrian Matejka’s New Jean-Michel Basquiat-Inspired Poem, “& Later,”

Take a look at Jean-Michel Basquiat’s mesmerizing 1984 painting “Trumpet.” It inspired a new poem from Adrian Matejka that he calls “& Later,” Matejka won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award last year for “The Big Smoke,” his Jack Johnson-infused collection. Now the Indiana University professor is putting together a new book called “Collectable Blacks.” “I get caught up easily in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, especially his work focusing on boxers and jazz,” Matejka said. “His painting from 1984, ‘Trumpet,’ cracked open a tense holiday moment from my childhood. I don’t remember any actual trumpets at that holiday fracas, but Basquiat’s lines and pigments always seem to create unexpected opportunities for improvisation and meditation.” Matejka made... Read More →

VIDEO: Q&A With George Lamming, 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

George Lamming, who spent decades as a leader of the Caribbean literary Diaspora, won our 2014 Lifetime Achievement award for his deeply political books that critique colonialism and neo-colonialism. His first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, drew accolades from Jean-Paul Sartre and Richard Wright. Health concerns prevented Lamming from attending our 2014 ceremony in person, but we were able to film him in his native Barbados for a brief Q&A:     Q&A with 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Winner George Lamming from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo.   Read More →

VIDEO: Anthony Marra On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award For Fiction

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is an intoxicating first book about intersecting lives in war-torn Chechnya. The novel begins as Russian officers burn down a Muslim home and “disappear” the father Dokka but can’t find his daughter Haava. A neighbor hides the 8-year-old girl in a barely-functioning hospital. Novelist Anthony Marra sets this story over five taut days, as the child is hunted and the adults around her try to navigate radically different circumstances. Marra teaches at Stanford University. We caught up with Marra a few hours before he accepted the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction. Hear his remarks in the brief video below: Anthony Marra, Winner Of The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Fiction from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo.   Read More →

VIDEO: Ari Shavit On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Nonfiction

Ari Shavit, a columnist for Jerusalem’s daily newspaper Haaretz, spent five years writing My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel in English and Hebrew simultaneously. A former Israeli paratrooper, peace advocate and great-grandson of Victorian-era Zionists, Shavit carefully examines a fraught and difficult history, interweaving family memoir, multiple documents and hundreds of interviews with Arabs and Jews. This important, clarifying book asks why Israel was created, what it has achieved, what went wrong and if it can survive. We spent a few minutes with Shavit prior to this year's ceremony, and he expressed his gratitude to the jury for recognizing his work:  Ari Shavit, Winner of the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Nonfiction, for "My Promised Land" from... Read More →

VIDEO: Adrian Matejka On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Poetry

Adrian Matejka's “The Big Smoke” is a nuanced, polyphonic book that explores the life of boxer Jack Johnson, the first African- American heavyweight world champion. A fan of the sport, Matejka was moved by this son of emancipated slaves – born in Texas just 13 years after the end of the Civil War – who loved Shakespeare, Verdi’s operas, travel abroad and a series of white women. The Big Smoke follows Johnson until 1912 in 52 poems. Matejka spent eight years researching and writing this book. He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington.   We caught up with Matejka in a few quiet moments before this year's ceremony to hear his thoughts on being honored with the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for poetry:  Adrian Matejka, Winner of The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Poetry... Read More →

Adrian Matejka’s Poetry Hits The Canvas At Cleveland’s Old Angle Boxing Gym

Adrian Matejka reads from The Big Smoke at Cleveland's Old Angle boxing gym, September 10 | Photo Credit: Ryan Brady-Toomey Faded fight posters on the walls at Cleveland's Old Angle boxing gym served as an authentic backdrop for the poetry of Adrian Matejka, 2014 winner of an Anisfield-Wolf book award. Matejka's 52-poem collection, "The Big Smoke," centers on Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion, who earned the crown in 1908. Gym owner Gary Horwitz rearranged his gym and his week to host. Dave Lucas, a founder of the "Brews & Prose" literary series, canceled his September plans and moved his audience from the Market Garden Brewery down W. 25th St. to the gym. The night featured Matejka’s reading, two live boxing demonstrations, and dollar bratwurst. Clad in... Read More →

Anthony Marra Brings His New Author Magic To Cleveland September 10

Anthony Marra startled the literary world in 2013 with his stunner of a debut, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. His fresh, Chechnya-inspired book won this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and will bring its author to Cleveland for the first time. He follows in the footsteps of Iraq War veteran Kevin Powers, who spoke last year about his own war novel, “The Yellow Birds” on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.  Marra, 30, will speak and read at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 10, in the intimate setting of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case. "Wars shatter families, relationships, even stories," Marra has said. "But Constellation is less a story about war than a story about ordinary people rebuilding their lives during and in the aftermath of war. It's a... Read More →

Explore 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award Winning Titles At Cleveland Public Library’s Brown Bag Book Club

On the cusp of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony, join awards manager Karen R. Long for a personal introduction to the titles being honored this year. Long will offer a speed date with each book, and an introduction to the Lifetime Achievement winners on Wednesday, September 3 at noon. Her presentation will kick off this fall’s Brown Bag Book Club at the Cleveland Public Library downtown. In subsequent weeks, the series will then break out to examine each of the 2014 award-winning books in turn. Beginning Wednesday, September 10, readers will gather at noon with expert librarians to consider the poetry, novel and nonfiction works in the spotlight this year:   The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka Wednesday, September 10 A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra... Read More →

Poet Adrian Matejka Comes To Cleveland Boxing Gym For “The Big Smoke” Reading

Poet Adrian Matejka mixed his love of boxing with his love of literature to produce “The Big Smoke,” 52 poems that center on Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion. The collection won this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. On September 10, Matejka will bring his words to the Cleveland canvas of the Old Angle Boxing Gym while boxer Roberto Cruz, 11, and Corey Gregory, 42, will each demonstrate the sweet science in separate demonstration bouts. We are proud to collaborate with Old Angle owner Gary Horvath and Dave Lucas of Brews + Prose to welcome the Clark Avenue neighborhood, the boxing community and local literati for a memorable night of sport and poetry. The evening begins at 7 p.m. and is... Read More →
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