Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) riders can now enjoy an even closer view of world-class art inspired by the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards cannon as Phase II of INTER|URBAN was unveiled as part of Cleveland Book Week 2018.

Completed ahead of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the first phase of INTER|URBAN included murals, photographs and installations along the train tracks of the RTA’s Red Line, which connects downtown Cleveland with Hopkins International Airport to the west, and University Circle to the east.

This second phase of the project brings the art onboard the train cars, giving riders a more intimate and prolonged interaction with the art. We’re proud to have supported INTER|URBAN, a collaboration between the RTALAND Studio, and the Cleveland Foundation.

For Phase II, 25 artists – most of whom call Northeast Ohio home – were chosen from more than 200 applicants to create works inspired by five Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners: The Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Langston HughesThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel WilkersonThe Fortunes, by Peter Ho DaviesFar From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon and The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, by Lillian Faderman. Their art has been installed on 25 Red Line train cars.

If you haven’t already, we encourage you to ride the Red Line and experience INTER|URBAN for yourself. Learn more about the project in this short film, which premiered to the audience at the 83rd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Ceremony on September 27:

The new novel from Laird Hunt, “In the House in the Dark of the Woods,” has the feel of a hymnal. It is palm sized and red, and it contains a story nestled in the Puritan Colonial era.

Hunt, 50, won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2013 for “Kind One,” a haunting Civil War novel inspired by a short passage in Edward P. Jones’ masterpiece “The Known World.” Hunt is drawn to fable and journeys and psychological complexity. The new novel wastes no time entering the woods.

The first two sentences, in the voice of the narrator, are “I told my man I was off to pick berries and that he should watch our son for I would be gone some good while. So away I went with a basket.”

The woman goes missing, and Hunt excavates the ancient fears of women who abandon their families and women who are kidnapped and women who wander away without explanation. The epigram for the new work comes from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”:

Deep into that darkness peering,

Long I stood there

Wondering, fearing

This eighth novel from Hunt, now a professor at Brown University, continues his assured, lyrical and disruptive storytelling. Readers who enter his fiction already know that these woods will be strange and harrowing indeed.

Laird Hunt will speak at the Orange branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library on Thursday, October 18. Registration is recommended. 

Poet Toi Derricotte, whose 1998 prose publication “The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey” remains a pillar of American literature, has not been idle. The University of Pittsburgh Press will bring out a new book of her poetry, “I,” in March of next year.

Derricotte, 77,  an emeritus professor at the University of Pittsburgh, co-founded Cave Canem in 1996, a revolutionary space for black writers. Nikky Finney calls it  to this day “the major watering hole and air pocket for black poetry.”

“The Black Notebooks,” comprised of Derricotte’s journal entries from more than 20 years, won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for nonfiction in 1998. Two years ago, Derricotte introduced her friend, poet Rita Dove, in Cleveland for a celebration of 30 years of Dove’s work. Sociologist Orlando Patterson called that night one on the great gatherings of his life.

Listen to Derricotte read her new poem, “The blessed angels,” here:

How much like
angels are these tall
gladiolas in a vase on my coffee
table, as if in a bunch
whispering. How slender
and artless, how scandalously
alive, each with its own
humors and pulse. Each weight-
bearing stem is the stem
of a thought through which
aspires the blood-metal of stars. Each heart
is a gift for the king. When
I was a child, my mother and aunts
would sit in the kitchen
gossiping. One would tip
her head toward me, “Little Ears,”
she’d warn, and the whole room
went silent. Now, before sunrise,
what secrets I am told!—being
quieter than blossoms and near invisible.

N. Scott Momaday began with horses and ended with bears. He spoke of the sacredness of both.

At 84, the recipient of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards lifetime achievement prize was both merry and measured on the dais of the City Club of Cleveland. He began with a tale about a hunting horse “black and fast and afraid of nothing.”

Its owner was a coward, though, and when the man diverted the horse from battle, it died of shame. The elder who recounted this story to Momaday cried when he told it. The writer includes it in his book “The Way to Rainy Mountain.”

“I have a distant relative who on one occasion gave away 250 horses from his private herd,” he said. His people, the Kiowa, “were rich in horses.”

The centrality of the horse braids through Momaday’s own life. On his 12th birthday, his parents gave him one. “I got to live the way some of my ancestors did,” he said, “on horseback. It was a great, great growing up thing for me. I spent several years on the back of a horse and I still dream of Pecos, my horse.”

City Club Executive Director Dan Moulthrop asked the writer if he indeed believed he was a bear, as he mentioned at the awards ceremony. Momaday answered with a foundational Kiowa story of seven girls and a boy, the boy’s transformation into a bear and the girls into the stars of the Big Dipper.

“To take your question seriously, I do believe that I am a bear, that I have bear blood in me, that I have something of a bear’s mind and intuition, intelligence and imagination,” he said. “I believe that firmly.”

His poetry, he said, incorporates both English-language and Native oral traditions, a melding of spells, songs, incantations and chants with the poetic structures he studied at Stanford University.

Looking relaxed in a windbreaker and trim white goatee, Momaday told his listeners that “the Indians has a great capacity for survival and that’s a good thing.”

Readers may watch the entirety of his remarks here and join our mailing list to be among the first to hear the lineup for Cleveland Book Week 2019.