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Author Archives: Tara Jefferson

Introducing Our Class Of 2020

The Cleveland Foundation today unveiled the winners of its 85th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. The 2020 recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and explores diversity are: Eric Foner, Lifetime Achievement Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic, Poetry Charles King, Gods of the Upper Air, Nonfiction Namwali Serpell, The Old Drift, Fiction “The new Anisfield-Wolf winners bring us fresh insights on race and diversity,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr. who chairs the jury. “This year, we honor a brilliant, breakout novel that centers Zambia, a book of political poetry 15 years in the making and a riveting history documenting a revolution in Western thought. All is capped by the lifetime achievement of Eric Foner, who has remade our... Read More →

CANCELLED: Novelist Peter Ho Davies To Announce 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Winners March 30

We have cancelled the March 30 reading by Peter Ho Davies and announcement of our 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards winners, in keeping with the precautions at all Ohio libraries due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please stay tuned for an online announcement March 30 of the new class of recipients.  We thank our partner, the Cuyahoga County Public Library, and all those who made plans to join us in person. We encourage you to mark your calendars for 6 p.m. Thursday October 1 at the Connor Palace Theater of Playhouse Square for the awards ceremony, which will anchor the fifth annual Cleveland Book Week, beginning September 27 and running through October 3. Novelist Peter Ho Davies, who won the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf award for fiction, returns to Cleveland March 30 to announce our class of... Read More →

Honoring Toni Morrison With A “Gesture Of Love” On Her Birthday

A mere dozen miles from the site where Toni Morrison was born Chloe Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, a day-long gathering will mark what would have been the novelist's 89th birthday. "In Celebration of Toni Morrison: A Gesture of Love and Reflection" will be live-streamed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from the Oberlin College campus. Organizer Johnny Coleman, professor of Studio Art and Africana studies, began working on the event the day after Morrison died in August. “This warrior artist had such a giant global impact and such an individual impact," he said. "I think there are individuals dispersed all over this planet who have very direct relationships with the images that Ms. Morrison conjured on the page and with the narratives she called up.” Organizers hope citizens will stop by the Irene... Read More →

What Henry Louis Gates Thinks About The “Beer Summit” Incident, 11 Years Later

Henry Louis Gates Jr. rarely speaks about one of his most publicized moments — the July 2009 arrest by Sgt. James Crowley at his Cambridge home, leading to the infamous "beer summit" at the Obama White House. Now the multi-hyphenate — historian, TV host, executive producer, editor, Harvard professor and Anisfield-Wolf jury chair — reflects on that incident, some 11 years later, in a new interview with New York Times magazine. "President Obama made an innocent comment that the arrest was stupid, which it was," he told the publication. Then all of a sudden all these racists are beating up on him. My whole attitude was channeled through the desire to protect our first black president." Throughout the interview, Gates toggles from subject to subject, from myths of the slave trade to... Read More →

Cleveland Residents Invited To Anisfield-Wolf Reading Series

  Pull up a chair at Case Western Reserve University's new reading seminar for a hearty discussion of four Anisfield-Wolf award-winning books, covering everything from the modern, urban Native experience to the consequences of political upheaval in Chile. Organizers invite you to explore four Anisfield-Wolf award winning books: "There There" by Tommy Orange (2019, fiction) — January 23 Orange, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, launched his literary career with :"There There," a layered, multi generational journey of 12 Native American characters who converge on a fictional powwow at the Oakland Coliseum. “Markedly, there’s so much joy [from Native communities] in feeling like they’re in a book, in a way that feels like ‘now,’ like it hasn’t... Read More →

Celebrating Zora Neale Hurston With The Release Of “The Zora Canon”

Anisfield-Wolf recipient Zora Neale Hurston would have turned 129 years old January 7. To celebrate her birthday, the editors of ZORA, an online magazine eponymously named after the Harlem Renaissance writer and pioneering anthropologist, compiled the ZORA Canon, its definitive list of the best books written by African American women. Novelist Kaitlyn Greenidge (“We Love You, Charlie Freeman") writes that the editors decided to take up the task when they realized no one seemed to have published a comprehensive list of black women authors, a baffling fact considering the robust reading habits of black women. Collectively, they took steps to remedy that omission. "Taken together, the works don't just make up a novel canon," Greenidge writes in the introduction. "They form a revealing... Read More →

Tommy Orange Shares The Urban Native American Experience In “There There” During Cleveland Book Week

Novelist Tommy Orange, cast in the warm glow of the lights at St. John Episcopal Church, brought his Anisfield-Wolf award-winning debut, "There There" to Northeast Ohio for Cleveland Book Week. Lake Erie Native American Council (LENAC) dancers - An Evening with Tommy Orange: Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards 2019 winner for Fiction for Cleveland Book Week 2019 - Photo © Bob Perkoski The evening's reading melded some new writing from Orange about fathers and sons playing basketball with dancers and drummers from the Lake Erie Native American Council, who performed traditional powwow dances and a drum circle. Their music and movement gave attendees a taste of the book, which follows twelve urban Native characters in advance of a fictious Oakland Coliseum powwow. More than 80 percent of... Read More →

Tracy K. Smith Examines The Duty Of Poetry In Turbulent Times During Cleveland Book Week

© Hilary Bovay With the William G. Mather steamship providing a nautical backdrop, poet Tracy K. Smith brought her work to the shores of Northeast Ohio as part of the 2019 Cleveland Book Week festivities. The 2019 Anisfield-Wolf winner for poetry opened her reading with a few selections from "Wade in the Water," her 2018 award-winning collection. She began "The Everlasting Self," a short meditative poem on identity and legacy, before segueing into "Declaration," an erasure poem taken directly from the Declaration of Independence. "Please speak to me," she recalled asking of the document. "Please show me something I haven't already seen." Later in the reading, she explained the significance of the title poem, which came to her during a visit to a small Georgia town. A woman, part of... Read More →

Young Cleveland Poet Mesmerizes Crowd At 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Ceremony

Logan Greer, 10, with Tracy K. Smith, 2019 Anisfield-Wolf award winner for poetry and the inspiration behind Logan's poem. For the past decade, Northeast Ohioans gathered for the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremonies have celebrated a young poet alongside the winning authors. This year Logan Greer, 10, a fifth grader at Campus International School, set the tone with her poem, "City of Growing Up." She wrote these lines in the spring of 2019 during a class exercise with teaching artist Nicole Robinson. Logan took her inspiration from “Ash” by Tracy K. Smith.  Campus International is part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. City of Growing Up City of pleasant party people City with gangs City with learning City before cruelness before being anxious City that... Read More →

Sonia Sanchez Invokes The Political At Kent State University For Cleveland Book Week

Poet Sonia Sanchez launched Cleveland Book Week 2019 with a rousing, reflective performance at Kent State University, as part of the 50th anniversary May 4 commemoration events. Sanchez began the evening with "A Poem of Praise," accompanied by a reflection on Kent State students who were killed and wounded by the National Guard during the campus demonstration in 1970, chanting each by name. As one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez, 85, has written more than a dozen poetry books, several plays and essays, experimenting with musicality in the written word. She's also spent more than 40 years in the classroom, a pioneer of black studies and women’s studies on college campuses. For these contributions, she'll be honored on Thursday night with the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf... Read More →
  • 2020 Winners Announced

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