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Tag Archives: Jesmyn Ward

“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 →

Jesmyn Ward On The Politics Of Being A Southern Writer

When Jesmyn Ward took the stage with Ayana Mathis, each novelist glanced around the warm, lush Maltz Performing Arts Center in Cleveland and toward the hundreds of faces turned in their direction. “Here we are,” said Mathis, “two black women on a stage, two writers able to talk with each other; it’s really a beautiful thing.” Bathed in applause, Mathis acknowledged that this wasn’t their first public duet. When contacted about staging a conversation, Ward, winner of this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, requested Mathis, whose debut novel, “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie,” garnered an Oprah Book Club selection in 2012.   Seated comfortably, each in boots and black trousers, the pair gave an intimate master class in the craft of fiction, part of the Skirball... Read More →

Introducing Our Class Of 2018

  The Cleveland Foundation today unveiled the winners of its 83rd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Marlon James, a 2015 Anisfield-Wolf honoree, made the announcement. The 2018 recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity are: Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor, Poetry N. Scott Momaday, Lifetime Achievement Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Fiction Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Nonfiction “The new Anisfield-Wolf winners deepen our insights on race and diversity,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., who chairs the jury. “This year, we honor a lyrical novel haunted by a Mississippi prison farm, a book of exceptional... Read More →

The New York Times And PBS NewsHour Team Up For A New Book Club

Jesmyn Ward, whose fiction is drawing comparisons to William Faulkner's, received a new honor this week: her 2017 novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” will kick off a new book discussion led by the New York Times and the PBS NewsHour. Called Now Read This, the organizers hope to become a go-to resource for reading groups across the country. Ward, the only woman to win a National Book Award twice for fiction, continues to live in rural Mississippi, the source of her family life and much of her inspiration. Born in 1977, Ward attended Stanford University and had decided in 2008 to turn away from the writing life and, at her mother’s urging, enroll in nursing school when Agate Publishing picked up her first novel, “Where the Line Bleeds.” It tells of two brothers on divergent paths and... Read More →

REVIEW: “Sing Unburied Sing” Fits Perfectly Into Jesmyn Ward’s Canon Of Southern Literature

The pages of Jesmyn Ward's third novel, "Sing, Unburied, Sing," smell of Mississippi. Set in the same fictional town, Bois Sauvage, as her 2011 National Book Award-winning novel, “Salvage the Bones,” her latest fiction returns to tell again of family bonds, tested by unresolved trauma and unrelenting Southern poverty. She undergirds the sense of place with a seven-line epigraph from Derek Walcott’s “The Gulf.” At the heart of “Sing” is Jojo, a 13-year-old narrator focusing on his budding manhood. His role model? Pop, whose days are spent taking care of his cancer-stricken wife, Mam, Jojo’s toddler sister Kayla, and to a lesser extent, his daughter Leonie, Jojo’s mother. Ward, a Mississippian and Tulane University professor, excels with a narrative that knits... Read More →

REVIEW: “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race”

There are 108 tally marks on the cover of The Fire This Time, the new essay collection that brings forth 18 perspectives from a new generation of writers, working in the tradition of James Baldwin. Each mark represents a black life lost too soon, a visual representation of the urgency of #BlackLivesMatter. In the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013, Jesmyn Ward went to Twitter to share her frustration, but found the platform too ephemeral. She was much more struck by the pertinence of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. Ward, editor of this anthology, decided she wanted a book that “would reckon with the fire of rage and despair and fierce protective love currently sweeping through the streets and campuses of America.” The results are mostly successful. The Fire Next... Read More →

Jesmyn Ward Stresses Importance Of Telling Stories That Matter During Recent Visit To Cleveland

On a freezing, overcast March day, the writer Jesmyn Ward made her first foray to Cleveland.  She barely smiled as she stood behind a lectern in brown leather boots, red corduroy pants and a gray sweater set. Yet several in her audience at Cleveland Public Library murmured that the piercing, prepared remarks Ward read should be published immediately. Others were visibly moved and brimming with questions. Ward, 36, who won a National Book Award for her second novel, “Salvage the Bones,” spent the morning with Cleveland students from Glenville High School and the afternoon exploring the question of who is allowed to speak: “We all feel inadequate when faced with a blank page, an empty canvas or a silent instrument.  We must battle self-doubt or negative introspection with every... Read More →
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