Jericho Brown will announce the new class of Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners in Cleveland April 4.
The charismatic and much-lauded poet, whose “The New Testament” won an Anisfield-Wolf prize four years ago, will also read from his just-publishing work “The Tradition.” The public is welcome to join him Thursday April 4 at 7 p.m. in the South Euclid/ Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.
Brown, 42, will cap the night with news of the 84th class of writers to win this year’s prize, honoring the 2018 books that best excel in confronting racism and exploring human diversity. Previous winners include Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Gunnar Myrdal, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Chin, Sandra Cisneros, Margot Lee Shetterly and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
The announcement will be live-streamed on the Cleveland Foundation’s Facebook page. And the new winners will be in the State Theatre of Playhouse Square at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 26 to accept their awards.
A native of Shreveport, Louisiana and an English professor at Emory University, Brown wrote the 14-line title poem to his new collection the year he was in Cleveland. Celebrated for his intense musicality, lyrical clarity and muscular impact, the poet begins “Night Shift” with “When I am touched, brushed, and measured, I think of myself/As a painting.”
There are 51 poems in “The Tradition,” published by Copper Canyon Press. Here is the title piece:
Aster. Nasturtium. Delphinium. We thought
Fingers in dirt meant it was our dirt, learning
Names in heat, in elements classical
Philosophers said could change us. Star Gazer.
Foxglove. Summer seemed to bloom against the will
Of the sun, which news reports claimed flamed hotter
On this planet than when our dead fathers
Wiped sweat from their necks. Cosmos. Baby’s Breath.
Men like me and my brothers filmed what we
Planted for proof we existed before
Too late, sped the video to see blossoms
Brought in seconds, colors you expect in poems
Where the world ends, everything cut down.
John Crawford. Eric Garner. Mike Brown.