Watch Our New Jury Honor Our Class of 2024 In This Announcement Video


One highlight of the annual Anisfield-Wolf awards ceremony is listening as a gifted local student reads aloud a poem of her or his own making.

Last year, second-grader Isabella Rodriguez commanded a rapt audience with “Home,” a remarkable work that begins “Suppose there is a city in the Buddha’s lap and his knees are the mountains singing.”

Her work was captured by the Traveling Stanzas project, a community arts project led by Wick Poetry Center and Kent State University’s Glyphix design studio. Community members and visitors to Northeast Ohio can see the beautifully designed posters “traveling” our region on Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority vehicles, as well as on Portage County’s PARTA.

Watch this arresting, one-minute video treatment of Isabella reading her poem, with animation by Devon Skunta-Helmink, a Kent State design student. It will whet your interest in our next young poet, appearing at the Sept. 12, 2013 ceremony on the stage of the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland.

Home from Traveling Stanzas on Vimeo


Suppose there is a city in the Buddha’s lap

and his knees are the mountains singing.

Suppose feathers rejoice when they fall

from an eagle’s wing, spinning and dancing.

Suppose nature is a map leading to willow trees

where spirits roam, speaking in old voices.

Suppose you can climb rocks like a billy goat

with clanking hooves and horns that curl for battle.

Suppose a path of dandelions and buttercups

takes you back to the mountain,

where you call out, “I’m home.”

Poem by Isabella Rodriguez, 2nd grade, Kent, Ohio


We know how much of an honor it is to be able to dedicate a night of our lives to the power of books. Not just any books, but the kind of books that make you think, that give you new information to digest, that force you to see the world a bit differently once you finish reading the last sentence. 

This year’s ceremony was a must-see, and if you weren’t able to get tickets (they sold out in record time this year), if you weren’t able to watch it as it was broadcast live here at or at, you are in luck! This year there will be a number of additional chances to watch the broadcast on TV. Check out the dates and times below to see when you might be able to watch the ceremony in full on the Ohio Channel (statewide across Ohio) or on WVIZ/PBS Ohio (digital subchannel).

WVIZ/PBS Ohio can be viewed over the air on channel 25.2, on Time Warner on channel 990, and on Cox channel 201. Other channel locations for other systems available at the Ideastream channel guide

Sunday, September 23 
9:00 a.m.
5:00 p.m.

Monday, September 24
1:00 a.m.

Friday,  September 28 
2:30 p.m.
10:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 29 
6:30 a.m.

Saturday, October 20 
12:00 p.m.
8:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 21
4:00 a.m.

Isabella Rodriguez, a third-grader from Cleveland’s Walls Elementary School, joined us on Thursday during the Anisfield-Wolf ceremony to recite for us the poem she wrote as part of Traveling Stanzas, a collaborative project between Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and Glyphix design studio.

Her teacher, Nicole Robinson, was also in attendance, as was Isabella’s proud mother, Natasha Rodriguez, and her stepfather, Matthew Carroll.

Take a minute to read her poem, “Home,” and leave a comment for Isabella. We’ll make sure she sees it!

As we are furiously preparing for our awards ceremony in a few weeks, we found this video, taped for our 70th anniversary. In it, James McBride (The Color of Water), Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (Random Family) and jury chair Henry Louis Gates, among others, share their appreciation for an award that highlights the importance of talking about race. Watch the video above and let us know in the comments what you think. 

Each year we recognize several authors for their contributions to the ongoing conversation about race and diversity in the world. In September, each of our winners makes the trek to Cleveland for the awards ceremony, for our audience to meet these esteemed authors in person and to hear them read their works. It’s a hot ticket in town but does the public know much about the ceremony itself? We talked to Mary Louise Hahn, consultant to Cleveland Foundation for the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and she gave us (and you!) insight into the process: 

1. How long does it take for us to prep for the awards ceremony every year?

It takes us about three months to work out all the logistics, with several colleagues, PlayhouseSquare, ideastream and Colortone professionals involved.

2. How many AW winners are there?

211 including Lifetime Achievement winners (a tradition started by jury chair Henry Louis Gates, Jr., which goes back to 1996.) ·

3. Which author has flown the farthest distance to make it for the awards ceremony?

Probably Nam Le, flying from Australia via London and New York to Cleveland.

4. How many books does the jury read before making their selections on who is the winner?

Because our jury is so extraordinarily well read, quite a few of the 200+ publically nominated books are ones with which they are already familiar. By the end of the selection process, they will have all zeroed in on approximately 15-20 books and critiqued them together. ·

5. What is the largest attendance we’ve had the awards ceremony?

We had 950 people at Severance Hall for the 75th anniversary. Last year, our first at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square, we had an attendance of 850. Previous to Severance, our largest attendance was 640—the maximum capacity of the Bolton Theatre at the Cleveland Playhouse. Our last three years in the Bolton, our ceremonies had only a few empty seats, despite the fact, that the tickets were free.