Tag: African-American MacArthur Fellows

Author and MacArthur Fellow Jesmyn Ward Wins 2nd National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward attends the 68th National Book Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 15, 2017 in New York City, NY, USA. Photo by Dennis Van Tine/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images) 

MacArthur “Genius” grantee Jesmyn Ward took home the National Book Award prize for Fiction Wednesday, marking the second time she has won the prestigious award.

She took the top prize for her book Sing, Unburied, Sing,” a Mississippi-based family epic that, according to the New York Times, “grapples with race, poverty and the psychic scars of past violence.” She previously won the fiction award in 2011 for her novel “Salvage the Bones.”

Critics have compared her writing to works by greats like Toni Morrison and William Faulkner. In her acceptance speech Ward said that she had received her fair amount of rejections for her subject matter.

“Throughout my career, when I have been rejected, there was sometimes subtext, and it was this: People will not read your work because these are not universal stories,” she told the audience. “I don’t know whether some doorkeepers felt this way because I wrote about poor people or because I wrote about black people or because I wrote about Southerners. As my career progressed and I got some affirmations, I still encountered that mindset every now and again.

Eitherway, she added, many people were able to connect with her characters and stories: “You looked at me, at the people I love and write about, you looked at my poor, my black, my Southern children, women and men — and you saw yourself. You saw your grief, your love, your losses, your regrets, your joy, your hope.“

Earlier this year, she was a recipient of a MacArthur ”genius grant“ from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Source: https://www.essence.com/culture/jesmyn-ward-second-national-book-award-sing-unburied-sing

Claudia Rankine, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kellie Jones and Joyce J. Scott Among 2016 MacArthur “Genius” Grant Recipients

2016 MacArthur Grant Fellows Claudia Rankine (top l); Kellie Jones (top r); Brandon Jeknins (bottom l); Sharon Scott (bottom r) [Photos courtesy macfound.org)
2016 MacArthur Grant Fellows Claudia Rankine (top l); Kellie Jones (top r); Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (bottom l); Joyce J. Scott (bottom r) [Photos courtesy macfound.org)

article by Jennifer Schuessler via nytimes.com

Getting a phone call from an unidentified number in Chicago in late summer is a fantasy many artists, scientists and other creative people have entertained. But that doesn’t mean it seems real when it actually happens.

“I thought I was having a psychotic breakdown,” the playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins said of his reaction to learning several weeks ago that he was among the 23 people selected as 2016 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“I went out on the street, and ran into a friend,” Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins continued. “I had him look at my cellphone, just to confirm that the call had been real.”

This year’s winners of the MacArthur fellowships, awarded for exceptional “originality, insight and potential,” and publicly announced on Thursday, include writers, visual artists, scientists, nonprofit organization leaders and others, who are chosen at a moment when the recognition and money — a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 distributed over five years — will make a difference.

“We want to give people new wind against their sails,” said Cecilia A. Conrad, a managing director of the foundation and the leader of the fellows program.

The honorees include relatively well-known figures in the arts like the poet Claudia Rankine, 53, whose book “Citizen,” (2014) which explored racism in everyday life, won numerous awards and made the New York Times best-seller list; the essayist Maggie Nelson, 43, who won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism for “The Argonauts,” a hard-to-classify exploration of gender, motherhood and identity; and Gene Luen Yang, 43, who in January became the first graphic novelist named national ambassador for children’s literature by the Library of Congress.

The youngest fellow is Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins, 31, known for plays, like “An Octoroon” and “Neighbors,” that address race, class and history, sometimes through the remixing of charged stereotypes. The oldest is Joyce J. Scott, 67, a Baltimore-based artist whose work includes performance art and large-scale sculptural pieces that incorporate traditional beadwork into pointed commentaries on American culture, the black female body and other subjects.

To read full article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/arts/macarthur-foundation-announces-2016-genius-grant-winners.html

Ta-Nehisi Coates Wins MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant

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Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of 24 people selected for this year’s “genius grants” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Tuesday.

Coates, the author of current New York Times bestseller “Between the World and Me,” is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about cultural, political and social issues, most prominently racial issues. Recipients receive $625,000 over five years to continue work in their respective fields. Other winners include playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, puppeteer Basil Twist, poet Ellen Bryan Voigt and writer Ben Lerner.

“I wished I could be cool,” Coates told The New York Times. “But you just can’t be cool.”

“The Case for Reparations,” Coates’ 2014 centerpiece essay on the state of race relations in the United States, prompted a frenzy of online discussion and debate over the legacy of slavery and institutional racism in America.

article by Nick Gass via politico.com

Octavia Butler’s Science Fiction Novel “Dawn” Being Developed into TV Series

Octavia E. Butler Discusses Her New Book 'Fledgling'
Author Octavia Butler (Source: Malcolm Ali / Getty)

One of Octavia Butler’s books will finally see the light of film. Butler’s Dawn, which is the first book of the late sci-fi novelist’s Lilith’s Brood collection, is being developed into a TV series. According to Deadline, Allen Bain has made the novel his first acquisition under his company.

Dawn tells the story of humanity’s last survivors who are saved by an ancient alien race right before the destruction of Earth. Humans are given the choice of either mating with the aliens to create a new mixed species or go extinct.

“The Lilith’s Brood trilogy is both timely and poignantly accessible as we continually grapple with questions of racial identity in our country, as well as our own place in an increasingly globalized world.”

Butler was a pioneering sci-fi novelist, and became the first science fiction writer to win the MacArthur Fellowship, aka the “Genius Grant.” She died in 2006 and was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.

article by Starr Rhett Roque via hellobeautiful.com

Suzan-Lori Parks Wins 2015 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History

Award Winning Playwright and Professor Suzan-Lori Parks
Award Winning Playwright and Professor Suzan-Lori Parks

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, who teaches creative writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. The prize was established by Jean Kennedy Smith, the sister of Senator Edward Kennedy, and is administered by the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning at Columbia University in New York City.

Parks was honored for her play “Father Comes Home From the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3,” which was first staged at The Public Theater in New York last October. The Kennedy Prize comes with a $100,000 cash award.

Parks is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She is a former MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” winner. Professor Parks was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her play “Topdog/Underdog.”

article via jbhe.com

Psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, Artist Rick Lowe, Composer Steve Coleman and Poet Terrance Hayes Receive 2014 MacArthur “Genius” Grants

This morning the MacArthur Foundation named the recipients of the 2014 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly referred to as the “genius grants.” The class includes four visionary members of the African-American community whose work, discoveries, and ideas are advancing their fields and our understanding of our world.  The MacArthur Fellowship is a “no strings attached” award that comes with a stipend of $625,000, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years. This year’s fellows are:

2014 MacArthur Award Winner Jennifer Eberhardt, Stanford University.
Jennifer Eberhardt

Jennifer Eberhardt, a social psychologist investigating the subtle, unconscious ways people racially code and categorize others, with a particular focus on how race and visual perceptions of people affect policing and criminal sentencing.

lowe_2014_hi-res-download_1
Rick Lowe

Rick Lowe, a public artist using art to reimagine and revitalize struggling communities. His program has transformed derelict properties in Houston’s predominantly African American Third Ward into a visionary arts venue and community center. He has since begun similar work in other cities, including current projects in Dallas and Philadelphia.

Steve Coleman
Steve Coleman

Steve Coleman, a jazz composer and saxophonist infusing traditional jazz with an eclectic range of other musical styles, including music from West Africa, South India, Brazil, and Cuba.

Terrance Hayes
Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes, a poet crafting musical, almost improvisational verse that delves into issues of race, gender, current events, and family. He often uses humorous wordplay and references to pop culture, including poems that speak in the voices of David Bowie, Jorge Luis Borges, and Strom Thurmond.

To see the list of 2013 African American MacArthur Fellows, click here.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)