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Author Archives: Karen R. Long

Kamden Hilliard Named Second Anisfield-Wolf Fellow At Cleveland State University Poetry Center

Kamden Hilliard — a poet who has lived in Hawai’i, southern California, New York City, Hong Kong, Iowa and South Carolina over their 26 years — will be the second Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Writing and Editing.  Hilliard was chosen from among more than 100 applicants. The poet, who uses “they, them, their” pronouns, has yet to see Cleveland. That will happen when they start the two-year fellowship in August at the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. The new fellow will succeed Leila Chatti, whose first book “Deluge” arrives from Copper Canyon Press April 21. The poets have friends in common but have yet to meet. The fellowship combines writing, editing and community engagement. “I was born in California to military parents,” Hilliard writes in their application.... Read More →

On Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation, These Two Anisfield-Wolf Titles Offer Reflection

The gate at Auschwitz. Photo credit xiquinhosilva via Flickr Ten years after Edith Anisfield Wolf established the book prizes, Soviet troops advanced across southeastern Poland and liberated Auschwitz, the complex were 1.3 million were enslaved — and 1.1 million murdered — during the Second World War.  Did the prominent Jewish Clevelander with family in Austria ask herself in 1945, "In the face of such decimation, what good is a book award?" Seventy-five years after the fact of Auschwitz was laid bare to the world, “attacking Jews has once again become socially acceptable in many countries – across the left-right ideological spectrum, and among groups that blame Jews for their grievances and oppression” writes Dr. Walter Reich, former director of the United States... Read More →

Put These 2019 Titles On Your 2020 Book List

In the onslaught of titles published each year, friends of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards can deploy a powerful technique to sift the wheat from the chaff: Find the new work from those writers already in the canon. Here are some gems sitting atop the 2019 pile: “Black Leopard Red Wolf” by Marlon James The Jamaican American novelist most celebrated for “A Brief History of Seven Killings” goes genre. Actor Michael B. Jordan bought the film rights to this epic fueled by African mythology even before it published in February. The story — the first installment of a planned trilogy — spools out in beautiful sentences that coil around a hunter named Tracker. In nonlinear flashbacks, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone to find a disappeared boy, joining forces with... Read More →

With Release Of “The Nickel Boys,” Colson Whitehead Grabs The Spotlight Once Again

Photo credit: Chris Close “Even in death the boys were trouble.” Those seven words open “The Nickel Boys,” the latest novel from Colson Whitehead, who won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2004 for “John Henry Days,” a time-traveling story that John Updike declared “refreshes our sense of the world.” In the books that followed, Whitehead, now 49, has consistently delivered on Updike’s phrase – culminating in 2016’s “The Underground Railroad,” in which he places an actual time-traveling railroad beneath the country’s soil to wend its way from the days of slavery through the nation’s tortured history. Now Whitehead arrives at a new milestone. He is the first writer since August 2010 to grace the cover of Time magazine, profiled by novelist Mitchell S.... Read More →

Eugene Gloria Mixes Cultural Influences With New Poetry Collection, “Sightseer In This Killing City”

Readers of Eugene Gloria’s poems have a cultivated patience, a relationship with time. It has been seven years since the publication of his last book, “My Favorite Warlord,” winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. In 2013, Henry Louis Gates Jr. praised Gloria’s poetry by remarking on his own keen interest in genealogy. The Anisfield-Wolf jury chair located a kinship in the poet’s exploration of our origins “as a key to the present [that] is compelling, addictive, and – in the best circumstances – generative. It is this last quality that is evident on every page.” Gloria, 62, is deeply attuned to heritage and displacement. Arrivals and departures cycle through all four of his considered, beautiful and nimble poetry collections. “My Favorite Warlord” opens... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Fellow Leila Chatti Debuts New Poem “The Rules”

“The Rules,” a new poem by Anisfield-Wolf Fellow Leila Chatti, graced the inboxes of more than 350,000 subscribers, a landmark accomplishment for a rising poet. The American Academy of Poets has offered a daily dose of poetry, delivered digitally, since 2006. Chatti reads “The Rules” in her mellifluous, thoughtfully inflected voice in the audio clip. She states that she “wanted to write about the walk I took . . . in Madison, Wisconsin, and the brief, vital moment of joy that indicated my year-long depression might finally lift.” To do so, Chatti knew she would need to break the conventions of her craft, the rules. Fortunately, the poet is already adept at upending expectations. “This poem has no children; it is trying/to be taken seriously,” she writes in “The... Read More →

The Enduring Legacy Of Gordon Parks Featured At Cleveland Museum Of Art

Gordon Parks Self-Portrait Photographer, filmmaker, poet and novelist Gordon Parks died in 2006 at the age of 93. But the 1998 winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for lifetime achievement continues to exert a centrifugal force on American culture, well into the 21st century. Kendrick Lamar sampled Parks’ photographs for his music video “Element.” And a mesmerizing art exhibit, concentrating on Parks’ first decade of visual work, is now open to all at the Cleveland Museum of Art through June 30. There is no admissions charge. The National Gallery of Art curated “Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950.” It features many iconic images, perhaps none more arresting than Ella Watson in 1942 in a polka-dot dress, a charwoman who cleaned government buildings in... Read More →

Four Cleveland Students Honored For Their Social Justice Work

From left to right, Karson Baldwin, Sandhya Gupta, Elizabeth Metz, Jalen Brown and Brooke Peppard, a board member of the Princeton Prize on Race Relations. Photo Credit: Jeff Ivey Sophomore Elizabeth Metz was dismayed by students at Beachwood High School arguing whether slavery or the Holocaust was worse. Administrators say her student-led forums have improved campus race relations more than faculty and staff have been able to do. Senior Jalen Brown saw the toxic mix of homophobia and racism in the hallways of the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine. He formed a student cadre called “Specific and General Acceptance” to explore this intersection. One of their goals: fewer suicides. Senior Kye Harrell led a silent sit-in at Shaker Heights High School, gathering more than... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf -Winning Authors Nab Two Pulitzer Prizes

David W. Blight and Brent Staples -- two Anisfield-Wolf Book Award recipients – discovered this week that each had won a Pulitzer Prize.  Blight’s monumental biography, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” received the Pulitzer for history. And Staples, an editorial writer for the New York Times, has won for a series of newspaper opinion pieces. Both men will be awarded $15,000. Two more Anisfield-Wolf winners were named as Pulitzer finalists: novelist Tommy Orange, this year's fiction winner for his debut, "There There" and historian Jill Lepore, who won an Anisfield-Wolf prize in 2006, a finalist in criticism for her writing in the New Yorker. Three historians selected the Douglass biography: Annette Gordon-Reed, Tiya Miles and Marcus Rediker. Gordon-Reed, who... Read More →

Forthcoming Poetry Collection “Deluge” A Stunning Debut For Leila Chatti

Leila Chatti worked six years to create Deluge, 52 poems that the esteemed Copper Canyon Press will publish next year as her first book. Michael Wiegers, editor of the press that publishes Jericho Brown, C.D. Wright and W.S. Merwin, called Chatti in March to give her the news. “I’ve been happy-crying for the past hour driving to the prison I teach at – I’m so very, very excited to say my first book, DELUGE, is going to be published with @CopperCanyonPrs,” Chatti tweeted. “This feels like the best dream. I am so wildly grateful. Praise to God in all things.” Faith is a strand that weaves through her first two chapbooks and rises in Deluge. Chatti, 28, is the daughter of a Muslim father and a Catholic mother. When her father heard that the Copper Canyon editor -- whom his... Read More →
  • 2020 Winners Announced

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