In a nationally unique innovation, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards has partnered with the Cleveland State University Poetry Center to create a fellowship aimed at the lack of diversity in publishing. The Anisfield-Wolf Fellowship in Writing & Publishing is a two-year post-graduate position for an emerging writer. It will encompass time to work toward a first or second book and an opportunity to learn editing, publishing, literary programming, and community outreach.

Through the creation of this fellowship, Anisfield-Wolf and the CSU Poetry Center hope to support writers from historically underrepresented communities. The Cleveland Foundation awarded $71,000 over two years to support the salary and benefits of the fellow at the poetry center’s literary press.

“The publishing industry is 89 percent staffed by whites,” said Karen R. Long, manager of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. “Here is an opportunity to dent that bulwark, one fellowship at a time. We are honored to partner with Cleveland State and its distinguished poetry center to create a new on-ramp into this vital arena, and to improve Cleveland’s literary scene in the process.”

Poet Adrian Matejka, who won an Anisfield-Wolf award in 2014, will serve on the fellowship advisory board. So will poets Hayan Charara and Prageeta Sharma; publicist and poet Kima Jones and author Janice Lee.

The Poetry Center is an independent nonprofit press that publishes three to five books of contemporary poetry, prose, and translation each year. It hosts the Lighthouse Reading Series and serves as a teaching lab for undergraduate and graduate students at Cleveland State University and within the Northeast Ohio MFA program. The fellow will have the opportunity to review submissions, attend editorial meetings, and assist with Center contests.

In addition, this individual will be able to create her or his own outreach program, with the possibility of developing an anthology; organize community writing workshops; develop reading series to engage previously underserved communities; or work with a local organization involved in education, social justice, and the literary arts.

Interested candidates can find full details on the fellowship here. Applications are due February 1, 2018.

Coming off a successful year of literary prizes, three of the 2017 recipients of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards will reconvene for a closing panel session at the Virginia Festival of the Book.

  • Peter Ho Davies, author of The Fortunes and recipient of the 2017 Chautauqua Prize;
  • Tyehimba Jess, author of Olio and recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and
  • Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction.

They will be joined by jury member Rita Dove, who will share their writing and insights about race and culture, with particular focus on the August 2017 events that took place in Charlottesville:

This conversation, titled “Writing the American Story: Diverse Voices in Distinguished Books,” will take place at a public program on Sunday, March 25, 2018, at 3:00 PM at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. The program will feature a discussion of their work, reflections on obstacles to racial justice, and writing that helps make the American story a complete story.

“The Virginia Festival of the Book’s reputation in the literary community is par excellence, and we are honored to
join the 2018 program,” said Karen R. Long, manager of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, which are presented by
the Cleveland Foundation. “The Nazi violence in Charlottesville last August shocked the nation, and the Anisfield-
Wolf canon – exemplary books addressing racism and diversity — is pertinent to the work ahead for all of us. This
makes the Anisfield-Wolf panel  a natural fit for the Festival, one we welcome.”

“Writing the American Story” is 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. This program will be free and open to the public. Following the discussion, speakers will welcome audience questions.