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Tag Archives: winners

Author Isabel Wilkerson On Past And Present: “Our Current Divisions Are Neither New Nor Surprising”

Journalist Isabel Wilkerson keeps her readers connected to history.   During the summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Wilkerson gave context to swimmer Simone Manuel's historic gold medal by bringing forward the long history of blacks being barred from public pools and beaches -- and she did it in a mere 300 words. Likewise, when Clevelanders rejoiced over their first NBA championship, Wilkerson pointed out the triumph rested on LeBron James being a child of the Great Migration. She regularly uses her Facebook page to profile politicians, activists and entertainers whose ascension in popular culture lies in the Great Migration  -- the mass exodus of six million African-Americans between 1910-1970 from the rural South to all corners of the United States.   Isabel... Read More →

#WritersOnTrump Push Back On Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee

Five winners of the Anisfield-Wolf Book award in fiction are standing up to publicly, “as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the Presidency of the United States.”They join Anisfield-Wolf juror Rita Dove and more than 400 writers who list eight reasons to decry Trump’s candidacy, published as an open letter on LitHub.The novelists include this year’s winner Mary Morris (The Jazz Palace), as well as Junot Diaz (The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior), Nicole Krauss (Great House) and Anthony Marra (A Constellation of Vital Phenomena).“Because American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds... Read More →

New “Bench By The Road” Marks Underground Railroad History In Cleveland’s University Circle

Thinking about gaps in our communal memory has long occupied Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. In a 1989 interview, she said:“There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There's no 300-foot tower, there's no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi. And because such a place doesn't exist . . . the book had to.”The book is her novel Beloved, now firmly in the American canon and winner of a 1988 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Morrison’s remarks... Read More →

REVIEW: Andrew Solomon’s “Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years”

When Andrew Solomon went to Finland to promote The Noonday Demon, his ground-breaking 2001 book on depression, he landed on a leading morning television show.The interviewer, “a gorgeous blonde woman, leaned forward and asked in a mildly offended tone, ‘So, Mr. Solomon. What can you, an American, have to tell the Finnish people about depression?’” the writer recalls in his newest work.“I felt as though I had written a book about hot peppers and gone to promote it in Sichuan,” Solomon jokes in the leisurely and chatty introduction to Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years.Clearly this 52-year-old writer, who won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2013, has serious wanderlust. Solomon has traveled to 83 of the 196 recognized nations... Read More →

READ: Marilyn Chin’s New Poem, “Peony”

Hours before accepting her 2015 Anisfield-Wolf award, Marilyn Chin claimed "activist poet" as her mantle:  "I've been writing poetry to right the wrongs of the world, to express my Chinese-American sensibility, to work for this utopian American future." Chin, a professor at San Diego State University teaching this year at Smith College, collected the prize for Hard Love Province, her fourth volume of poetry. Juror Rita Dove praised her work as "icy yet inflamed." Her new poem, "Peony," is featured for some 350,000 subscribers to the American Academy of Poet's digitally-delivered "Poem-A-Day."  This new work continues the elegiac notes found in Hard Love Province, lamenting on the passage of time.Chin explained the origins of "Peony" to the staff at the academy: “In Beijing, a... Read More →

At The Cleveland Humanities Festival, Author Kamila Shamsie Asks “Why Weep for Stones?”

Novelist Kamila Shamsie has a knack for titles.  She called her talk in Cleveland “Why Weep for Stones?” and built it into a riveting meditation on history, art, war and morals.  Readers of her fiction – Shamsie won a 2010 Anisfield-Wolf prize for “Burnt Shadows” – will recognize the thematic confluence at once.Standing in the ornate neo-Gothic Harkness Chapel of Case Western Reserve University, Shamsie drew her listeners into thinking about the political destruction of art, such as the desecration and damage in Palmyra, Syria, amid a civil war that has claimed more than a quarter of a million lives.  Recent reports indicate that some of Palmyra’s irreplaceable ruins have survived the fighting.“What do we celebrate when we celebrate ancient artifacts withstanding... Read More →

The Artist As Activist: Author Edwidge Danticat In Cleveland

Edwidge Danticat began her remarks in Cleveland by drawing attention to another artist, the painter Jacob Lawrence, whose migration series was on display last year at the Museum of Modern Art. Danticat, who has family in Brooklyn, New York, said she often walked the long rectangular room, soaking in the art as a way to reflect on the massacre at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charlotte, South Carolina. “What kept me glued to these dark silhouettes is how beautifully and heartbreakingly Lawrence captured black bodies in motion, in transit, in danger, and in pain,” she said. “The bowed heads of the hungry and the curved backs of mourners helped the Great Migration to gain and keep its momentum, along with the promise of less abject poverty in the North, better educational... Read More →

Southern Storyteller Pat Conroy Laid To Rest In His Beloved South Carolina Town

Pat Conroy, the Southern novelist and storyteller, was buried from St. Peter Catholic Church in Beaufort, S.C., surrounded by almost 1,200 mourners. Friends carried his unadorned casket into the sanctuary as a soloist sang “The Water is Wide,” which is also the title of the memoir that won him a 1973 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. It sprang from his year teaching in a two-room schoolhouse on Duafuskie Island, off the South Carolina coast. Conroy’s students spoke Gullah, a local dialect, and had little experience beyond their isolated, impoverished home. The writer said his unorthodox approach to teaching – including a refusal to use corporal punishment – led the superintendent to fire him after a single year. “The Water is Wide” grew from Conroy’s frustration with the racism... Read More →

[Must Read] Jericho Brown On Langston Hughes’ Poem “Suicide’s Note”

When Jericho Brown won his Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, he spoke of his awe of Langston Hughes, calling his discovery of Hughes’ poems in a Louisiana public library the equivalent of falling in love. He also reminded the audience at Playhouse Square that Hughes was still a teenager, newly graduated from Central High School in Cleveland in 1920, when he wrote The Negro Speaks of Rivers. “Every time I think of an 18-year-old writing a poem that great,” Brown deadpanned, “I really hate Langston Hughes.” Now Brown has returned to this “first poet” in his pantheon, publishing an evocative, moving post “To Be Asked for A Kiss” on the Poetry Foundation web site. Suicide’s Note          by Langston Hughes The calm,Cool face of the riverAsked me for a kiss... Read More →

[VIDEO] Marlon James: We All Have A Stake In Ending Racism

Marlon James begins his 2-minute video on racism with the following question: "Are you 'non' or are you 'anti'?" Published by the Guardian and viewed more than 10 million times, the video asks viewers to grapple with their own sense of personal responsibility when it comes to dismantling white supremacy. James broke down his thoughts on non-racism vs. anti-racism when he spoke at the Cleveland City Club September 12. Here is a handy video recap of his point to share with friends: Read More →
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