Tracy K. Smith Named New U.S. Poet Laureate by Library of Congress

Tracy K. Smith (Photograph © Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

by Sophia Nguyen via harvardmagazine.com

Tracy K. Smith has been named the new U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, succeeding Juan Felipe Herrera. While the role doesn’t carry many specific official duties, it has traditionally involved raising awareness of, and increasing access to, poetry. “I am excited about the kinds of social divides that poetry may be able not just to cross but to mend,” Smith said in an interview with the library.

“One of my favorite things in the world is to sit and talk quietly about the things poems cause me to notice and remember, the feelings they teach me to recognize, the deep curiosity about other people’s lives that they foster. I am excited about carrying this conversation beyond literary festivals and university classrooms, and finding ways that poems might genuinely bring together people who imagine they have nothing to say to one another.” Smith has authored four books of poetry, the most recent of which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Her memoir Ordinary Light was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2015.

In later chapters, she describes going to Harvard (where she joined the Dark Room Collective) as her mother’s health began to fail. In poetry workshops, she writes, “I had discovered that sitting down with an idea and letting it unfold in words and sounds offered me not just pleasure but an indescribable comfort.” Her new collection, Wade in the Water, comes out next April.

To read full article, go to: Library of Congress names Harvard alumna Tracy K. Smith as new Poet Laureate | Harvard Magazine

Pulitzer Prize Winners: Colson Whitehead, Lynn Nottage, Hilton Als and Tyehiimba Jess Earn Awards for 2017

2017 Pulitzer Prize winners Hilton Als, Colson Whitehead, Lynn Nottage and Tyehimba Jess (photo via mic.com)

article by Sarah A. Harvard via mic.com

The Pulitzer Prize committee announced its 2017 winners at its 101st annual ceremony on Monday. Among the 21 winners of the prestigious literary award, four black writers were commended for their work. BuzzFeed News’ executive editor Saeed Jones tweeted that Tyehimba Jess, Hilton Als, Lynn Nottage and Colson Whitehead were among the new class of winners.

Jess won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Olio, a collection of his sonnets, songs and narratives that highlight the lives of “unrecorded African-American performers” before the Civil War up to World War I.

Nottage won the Pulitzer Prize in drama for her Broadway show Sweat. The play, a political drama, centers on a group of friends who spent most of their lives working with each other in a factory and follows their friendship’s tumultuous friendship as rumors of layoffs begin to stir. According to Playbill, Nottage is the first female playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize twice. Nottage tweeted out thank yous for her award.

Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his 2016 novel The Underground Railroad. The novel tells the story of a teenage heroine, Cora, in 1850s Georgia who tries to escape a cotton plantation and start her journey toward freedom.

Als, a theater critic for the New Yorker, won a Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

Source: 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners: 4 black writers take home the coveted award

Scholars Carol Anderson and Ishion Hutchinson Win National Book Critics Circle Awards

Ishion Hutchinson and Carol Anderson

article via jbhe.com

The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards were recently announced in New York City. The National Book Critics Circle awards are given each March and honor the best literature published in the United States in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This year, two of the six winners are Black scholars with current affiliations at academic institutions in the United States.

Carol Anderson, the Charles Howard Candler Professor and chair of African American studies at Emory University in Atlanta won the National Book Critics Circle Award in the criticism category. She was honored for her book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury, 2016). Professor Anderson holds bachelor’s and master’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She earned a Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University.

Dr. Anderson joined the faculty at Emory in 2009 after teaching at the University of Missouri. She is also the author of Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955 (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Ishion Hutchinson, an assistant professor of English at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry for his collection House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). Dr. Hutchinson is a native of Jamaica and a graduate of the University of the West Indies. He holds a master of fine arts degree from New York University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah. His first collection of poetry, Far District: Poems, was published in 2010 by Peepal Tree Press.

Source: Two Black Scholars Win National Book Critics Circle Awards : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Kevin Young Named Poetry Editor at The New Yorker Magazine

Kevin Young (Credit Melanie Dunea/CP)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nytimes.com, Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has been named the new poetry editor of The New Yorker magazine.

According to wikipedia.org, Young graduated from Harvard College in 1992, held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University (1992–94), and received his Master of Fine Arts from Brown University. While in Boston and Providence, he was part of the African-American poetry group the Dark Room Collective. He is heavily influenced by the poets Langston Hughes, John Berryman, and Emily Dickinson and by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Young is an esteemed poet and scholar whose work has been published in The New Yorker dating back to 1999.  His most recent work, “Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015,” made the 2016 National Book Award long list.

Young, 46, will officially take over the post in November, after he takes part in a passing of the torch of sorts: a reading and interview with current The New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon at the New Yorker Festival in the fall.

Jill Scott Releases New Poetic Card Collection with Hallmark’s Mahogany Brand

Jill Scott (photo via thegrio.com)

article by via thegrio.com

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hallmark’s Mahogany brand announced that it will be releasing the Jill Scott Collection, a line of new greeting cards with design, sounds and an editorial ‘voice’ from none other than Jill Scott herself.

“The Mahogany brand is genuine, progressive and optimistic – values that are important to me and reflected in my music and poetry, and now, through my card collection,” said Jill Scott. “I was inspired by highlights within my own life – love, marriage, motherhood – in the writing behind these cards, and I am excited to be involved in a project that will give others another way to express their love to the people that matter most to them.”

The collection features 20 cards for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as cards celebrating graduation, friendship, love and support.  “Ms. Scott is more than a singer, songwriter and actress – among other things, she is a busy mom and wife, like many Hallmark shoppers who cherish and celebrate the important relationships in their lives, and this card collection is a reflection of that,” said Philip Polk, Vice President of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards.

To read more, go to: Jill Scott releases new poetic card collection with Hallmark | theGrio

Purdue Librarian Jamilla R. Gabriel Starts Call Number, a Subscription Service for Black Literature

Jamillah R. Gabriel (photo via Purdue University)

Librarian Jamillah R. Gabriel (photo via Purdue University)

article via jbhe.com

Jamillah R. Gabriel, librarian at Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center, has launched a new start-up subscription box venture that each month will send a newly released book written by a Black author to subscribers of the service. Subscribers also will receive four or five book-themed items with their new book that mirror prominent themes in the featured book as well as catalog cards and spine labels. The Call Number service, scheduled to debut in November, will start at $35 per month. Gabriel told JBHE that “I have selected the first book but I’m keeping that under wraps at the moment.”

Gabriel states that “These days there is a subscription box service for just about anything: fitness products, beauty products, even razors. However, after reviewing many literary subscription box sites I realized there were no book subscription boxes that highlighted Black literature. The lack of diversity in the publishing industry also spurred my decision to test the waters of entrepreneurship in an endeavor that would promote diverse literature in an easily accessible way.”

To read more, go to: https://www.jbhe.com/2016/10/purdue-university-librarian-starting-a-subscription-box-service-for-black-literature/

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey Receives 2016 Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement

Natasha (photo via blog.bestamericanpoetry.com)

Natasha Trethewey (photo via blog.bestamericanpoetry.com)

article by jbhe.com

Natasha Trethewey, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University and the former poet laureate of the United States, received the 2016 Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement from the Academy of American Poets. The award comes with a $25,000 prize.

In announcing the award, Marilyn Nelson, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, stated that “Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities. Whether writing of her complex family torn by tragic loss, or in diverse imagined voices from the more distant past, Trethewey encourages us to reflect, learn and experience delight. The wide scope of her interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.”

Professor Trethewey is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and three other poetry collections. She is also the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010).

To read more, go to: https://www.jbhe.com/2016/09/natasha-trethewey-awarded-the-2016-fellowship-for-distinguished-poetic-achievement/