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Hurston/Wright Foundation Announces 2017 Legacy Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announced the winners and finalists of the 2017 Legacy Awards and paid tribute to three pioneers in their fields: Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library; Congressman John Lewis, author and civil rights activist; and Haki R. Madhubuti, poet, publisher and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement.

The winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2016 were Colson Whitehead in fiction for The Underground Railroad; JJ Amaworo Wilson in debut fiction for Damnificados; Kali Nicole Gross in nonfiction for Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America; and Donika Kelly in poetry for Bestiary. More than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia attended the ceremony on Friday, October 20 in Washington, D.C. Author and award-winning journalist Lonnae O’Neal served as Mistress of Ceremony and poet Derrick Weston Brown delivered a poetic tribute to Richard Wright.

Darlene Taylor, executive director for the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, presented the North Star Award – the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community – to Dr. Hayden for her work as a champion of literature. Marita Golden, co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, presented Congressman Lewis with the Ella Baker Award for his life’s work fighting for social justice. And, Malaika Adero, a veteran editor and author, presented Dr. Madhubuti with the Madam C. J. Walker award in recognition of his life-long dedication to uplifting the Black cultural experience.

The winners, finalists and nominees of the Legacy Awards are as follows:

Debut Fiction

Winner: Damnificados by JJ Amaworo Wilson (PM Press)

In the words of the judges: Damnificados creates a fabulist and gritty dystopia that is nearly allegorical in its portrayal of the dispossessed. It has intrigue and speculation, multi-lingual sweep and narrative drive. A book that challenges even as it entertains.

Nominees:
Blackass, A. Igoni Barrett (Graywolf Press)
Born on a Tuesday, by Elnathan John (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic)

Fiction

Winner: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

In the words of the judges: Colson Whitehead is without a doubt one of our most brilliant creatives. His attention to our painful history of slavery and the current state of race in this country is unprecedented in this book of remarkable craft and imagination. If his previous works did not do it, the remarkable work clearly confirms Whitehead’s place in the African American canon.

Finalist: The Loss of All Lost Things, by Amina Gautier (Elixir Press)
Finalist: Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (Amistad)
Nominees:
The Mother, by Yvvette Edwards (Amistad)
The Book of Harlan, by Bernice L. McFadden (Akashic Books)
Swing Time, by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)

Nonfiction

Winner:
Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America, by Kali Nicole Gross (Oxford University Press)

In the words of the judges: This book is a marvel. It accomplishes the very difficult task of weaving together a brutal story of murder while simultaneously creating empathy for the circumstances of the killer–a black woman trying to negotiate her own position in a society that has in turn, brutalized her. Tabbs thus reflects the condition of black women writ large at the turn of the 19th century–she is neither a hero, nor an anti-hero, yet, altogether riveting in her life-story.

Finalist: The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, And Reconciliation After the Genome, by Alondra Nelson (Beacon Press)
Finalist: In The Wake: On Blackness and Being, by Christina Sharpe (Nation Books)
Nominees:
The Firebrand and the First Lady:Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice, by Patricia Bell-Scott (Alfred A. Knopf)
Stamped from the Beginning,The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by
Ibram X. Kendi (Nation Books)
Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives, by Gary Younge (Nation Books)

Poetry

Winner:
Bestiary by Donika Kelly (Graywolf Press)

In the words of the judges: Bestiary is a book with animal instincts, each of these poems carrying breath and the will to live, to show how survival is possible in the midst of terror. Kelly’s plain-spoken way of proceeding is a guise for sharp truths that leave readers wounded. … In this book, we root around in the wilderness of an interior orphaned by America. Irreverent of the usual boundaries drawn around a name, these poems track insight across various fields of longing and experience, bristling for a fresh blood-music of belonging and liberation: “What beast/ will your blade free next? What call will you loose/ from another woman’s throat?” What brittle birthing Bestiary is: some parts human, all animal and forest in bloom!

Finalist: play dead, by francine j. harris (Alice James Books)
Finalist: Thief in the Interior, by Phillip B. Williams (Alice James Books)
Nominees:
Third Voice, byRuth Ellen Kocher (Tupelo Press)
Rapture, by Sjohnna McCray (Graywolf Press)
The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib (Button Poetry)

Previously announced awards for college writing, which went to Shakarean Hutchinson for fiction and Cheswayo Gabriel Mphanza for poetry, were presented by Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers and underwriter of $1,000 cash prizes.

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The Hurston/Wright Foundation Debuts “A World of Black Writers” Podcast

Podcast will explore the journey of exemplary authors, their work, and writing craft

To celebrate its 16th Annual Legacy Awards Ceremony, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation is debuting A World of Black Writers– a new podcast dedicated to notable books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and the Black writers who create them.

“Through this new podcast, Hurston/Wright invites readers and writers to explore the vast literary landscape created by Black writers and to learn about the skill, resources and paths they used to develop their work,” said Deborah Heard, executive director of the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

Available for listeners starting today, A World of Black Writers is launching with a series of interviews from the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards nominees, including poet Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib – author of The Crown Ain’t Worth Much (Button Poetry), journalist Gary Younge — Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives (Nation Books), and novelist Jacqueline Woodson — Another Brooklyn (Amistad).

Added Ms. Heard, “A World of Black Writers give authors not only an occasion to spotlight their work, but also
gives avid readers, supporters of Black writers, and future writers an opportunity to further understand and enjoy both the content, creativity, and diversity of their work.”

Episodes of A World of Black Writers will be featured on hurstonwright.org, and are available to stream and
download on iTunes and SoundCloud.

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JOHN LEWIS, HAKI MADHUBUTI, AND CARLA HAYDEN TO RECEIVE 2017 LEGACY AWARDS

Nominees Announced for Debut Fiction, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation will present merit awards to three pioneers in their fields at the 2017 Legacy Awards on Friday, October 20 at the historic Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Receiving the North Star Award–the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community–is Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. John Lewis, U.S. Congressman and author, will receive the Ella Baker Award, which recognizes writers for work that advances social justice. And, Haki Madhubuti, poet and founder of Third World Press, will receive the Madam C.J. Walker Award for his dedication to supporting and sustaining Black literature.
Dr. Carla Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. Nominated by President Barack Obama, she was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress in September 2016. Hayden began her professional career in 1973 as a children’s librarian at the Chicago Public Library. Prior to her appointment at the Library of Congress, she spent 13 years as chief executive at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, where she made news for keeping the library doors open during the 2015 protests after Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. For a week, the library became a refuge, even providing food. During her swearing-in speech, she said that “as a descendant of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution that is our national symbol of knowledge is a historic moment.”
Congressman John Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th District and is one of the most respected members of Congress. Since entering office in 1986, he has pushed for anti-poverty programs, healthcare reform and improvements in education, and oversaw multiple renewals of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis was a Freedom Rider, spoke at 1963’s March on Washington and led the demonstration that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” He is the co-author of the bestselling graphic novel memoir trilogy MARCH, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. In 2016, he won the National Book Award for the third installment in the series, which marked the first time a graphic novel received the honor. He is also the author of Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, written with Brenda Jones, and winner of the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Best Literary Work-Biography. His biography, Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.
A leading poet and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, Haki R. Madhubuti founded Third World Press, the largest independent Black-owned U.S. press, in 1967. He has published more than 31 books including poetry collections Think Black and Don’t Cry, Scream, under the name Don L. Lee. He took his current Swahili name in 1973, publishing numerous poetry and essay collections, including Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology. Madhubuti was founder and editor of Black Books Bulletin (1970-1994), a key journal documenting the literature, scholarship and conversations of African-American voices for over two decades. He was also a founding member of The Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) Writers Workshop (1967) and founded several charter schools in Chicago. He has received numerous awards including National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy prize in poetry in 2010 for his book, Liberation Narratives.
The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by writers from the United States as well as the international Black writing community. The evening will culminate in the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2016.
The Nominees for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are:
Debut Fiction
Blackass, A. Igoni Barrett (Graywolf Press)
Born on a Tuesday, Elnathan John (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic)
Damnificados, JJ Amaworo Wilson,  (PM Press)
Fiction
The Mother, Yvvette Edwards  (Amistad)
The Loss of All Lost Things, Amina Gautier (Elixir Press)
The Book of Harlan, Bernice L. McFadden (Akashic Books)
Swing Time, Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson (Amistad)
Nonfiction

The Firebrand and the First Lady:Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice, Patricia Bell-Scott (Alfred A.Knopf) Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America, Kali Nicole Gross (Oxford University Press)

Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi (Nation Books)

The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome, Alondra Nelson, (Beacon Press)
In The Wake: On Blackness and Being, Christina Sharpe, (Duke University Press)
Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives, Gary Younge (Nation Books)
Poetry
play dead, francine j. harris  (Alice James Books)
Bestiary, Donika Kelly (Graywolf Press)
Third Voice, Ruth Ellen Kocher (Tupelo Press)
Rapture, Sjohnna McCray (Graywolf Press)
Thief in the Interior, Phillip B. Williams (Alice James Books)
The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib (Button Poetry)
Judges
Debut Fiction: Breena Clarke, Anthony Grooms and Kim McLarin
Fiction: Preston L. Allen, Sanderia Faye, Crystal Wilkinson
Nonfiction: Saladin Ambar, Paula Giddings, Karla Holloway
Poetry: Remica Bingham-Risher, Jericho Brown, Geffrey Davis
Winners of the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, also will be honored. The ceremony draws more than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia. Click here for event details and tickets.
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Cornell and Rutgers Students Win 2017 Hurston/Wright Awards for College Writers

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation’s 2017 Award for College Writers goes to one student from Cornell University and one from Rutgers University-Newark. They win $1,000 each for their entries in the national competition. 
Shakarean Hutchinson, an MFA student at Cornell, wins the fiction prize for her story “How to Kill Pigs.”
Cheswayo Gabriel Mphanza, an MFA student at Rutgers, wins the poetry prize  for a collection of three poems.
The Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, given annually to Black college writers for fiction and poetry, for the fourth year will be presented through the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers.
The fiction judge was H.G. Carrillo, author of the novel “Loosing My Espanish.”  In selecting Hutchinson’s story, Carrillo evoked the artist who, “through an act of alchemy of his or her design, transports readers into a series of previously unimagined realities.” Hutchinson, he said, “hurtles us to a nonspecific part of our collective past–to an undisclosed location–and opens a selective, yet, richly detailed and wholly imagined girl, unearthing Men and Race as she heads towards womanhood.”
The poetry judge was Brian G. Gilmore, a 2015 Legacy Award honoree in poetry for “We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters” and a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law. Gilmore said of Mphanza’s collection: “Demonstrating a great command of language, form and using a syncopated control of its narrative push, ‘3 Poems’ celebrates music and life in a hip manner, playing tribute to music in the abstract (‘On Composing’), in the specific (‘Lester Leaps In,’) but also the real, with ‘Ode to the Unpaid Electric Bill,’ a more subdued offering that further reveals this poet’s skill and range in documenting our triumphs over challenge in our daily lives all the while bolstered by love.”
The award–the longest running program of the Hurston/Wright Foundation– encourages college creative writers with support early in their writing careers. In addition to the cash prize, winners receive a certificate to attend a Hurston/Wright writing workshop. Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of Amistad, said “Amistad and Harper Collins are honored to support the college writing award. It provides us an opportunity to nurture emerging talent and to encourage diverse voices.”
Deborah Heard, executive director of the foundation, said “Recognizing new talent is an essential part of the Hurston/Wright mission and has been since the award was established in 1991.” Former Hurston/Wright college writers who have found publishing success include Brit Bennett, Nate Marshall, Natalie Baszile, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tayari Jones, and David Anthony Durham.
The college winners will be honored at the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Friday October 20th. The evening features the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as the presentation of awards for career achievements. More than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, politics, arts, and academia attend the annual celebration.
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Hurston/Wright Foundation Announces 2016 Legacy Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announced the winners and finalists of the 2016 Legacy Awards and paid tribute to celebrated authors Ernest J. Gaines and Junot Díaz on Friday, October 21st in Washington, D.C.
More than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia attended. National Public Radio’s Michel Martin served as Mistress of Ceremony and novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez delivered a tribute to the foundation’s namesakes. The highlight of the evening was the naming of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2015 in the categories of debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Mitchell Jackson, author of The Residue Years and a former Legacy Awards finalist, presented the North Star Award — the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community — to Ernest J. Gaines, the award-winning author of A Lesson Before Dying. Marita Golden, co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, presented Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and founder of Voices of Our Nation, with the Ella Baker Award for championing diversity in MFA programs, his leadership in creating workshops for writers of color, and social justice advocacy.
The winners and finalists of the Legacy Awards are as follows:
Debut Fiction
Mourner’s Bench by Sanderia Faye (The University of Arkansas Press) – Winner

Fiction
Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company) – Winner
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Finalist
The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Finalist

Nonfiction
Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk (Amistad) — Winner
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander (Grand Central Publishing) — Finalist
Confronting Black Jacobins: The United States, the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic by Gerald Horne (Monthly Review Press) – Finalist
Poetry
Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press) –Winner
Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan (The University of Georgia Press) — Finalist
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (University of Pittsburgh Press) – Finalist

The Award for College Writers, under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, also was presented Friday night.  Princeton University’s John S. Wilson III won for fiction and Joy Priest of the University of South Carolina won for poetry, both of whom read from their winning works. Honorable mentions were awarded to Clynthia Burton Graham for fiction, and to Vanity Hendricks-Robinson and Latasha D. Johnson for poetry.
The 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by writers from the United States as well as the international Black writing community.
The additional nominees, all of whom were announced in June, were:
Debut Fiction
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson (Penguin Press)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown and Company)

Fiction
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson (William Morrow)
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Nonfiction
Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture by Ron Stodghill (Amistad)
Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness by Harriet A. Washington (Little, Brown and Company)
The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America by D. Watkins (Hot Books/Skyhorse Publishing)

Poetry
How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes (Penguin Books)
It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time by Angela Jackson (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis (Alfred A. Knopf)

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Nunez and Eubanks

Elizabeth Nunez and Ralph Eubanks Present Free Reading

Elizabeth Nunez

Nunez, author of nine novels and a memoir, will be reading from and signing copies of her latest novel, “Even in Paradise.” Her memoir, “Not for Everyday Use,” won the Hurston/Wright 2015 Legacy Award for nonfiction.

“Even in Paradise,” says Kirkus Reviews, is “an epic tale of family betrayal and manipulation couched in superbly engaging prose and peopled with deftly drawn characters. In a story structure as rhythmic as the ebb and flow of the water surrounding Trinidad and Barbados, this revisiting of the classic story of King Lear becomes a subtle, organic exploration of politics, class, race, and privilege. A dazzling, epic triumph.”

W. Ralph Eubanks

Eubanks will be reading from and signing “The House at the End of the Road.” The sequel to his acclaimed memoir, “Ever is a Long Time,” charts the nation’s complicated ideas of race through three generations of his own family.

“Eubanks’s story about his grandparents — an American mixed-race couple living openly (and precariously) in the cold heart of 1920s Jim Crow Alabama — enacts the liberating magic of literature: it finds truth in between conventional wisdom and sociological presumption, in between lies and faulty history. It is a story of race, of family, of place itself, and it tells us that compassion and the stirring force of individual human endeavor finally mean more than anything.” — Richard Ford

Presented by Politics and Prose Bookstore, in conjunction with The Hurston/Wright Foundation’s summer writing workshop, where Elizabeth Nunez and W. Ralph Eubanks are workshop leaders.

Date: August 10, 2016

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Busboys & Poets Takoma
235 Carroll St. NW Washington

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Ernest J. Gaines

Ernest J. Gaines and Junot Díaz to Receive 2016 Legacy Awards

Nominees Announced for Debut Fiction, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation will present the 2016 Legacy Awards on Friday, October 21st at the historic Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Receiving the North Star Award – the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community – is Ernest J. Gaines, the award-winning author of A Lesson Before Dying. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Díaz will receive the Ella Baker Award, which recognizes writers for work that advances social justice.

Gaines has received numerous awards, including the Presidential National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2012. Others honors include the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Louisiana Humanist of the Year and a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship. In 2000, he was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Gaines serves as writer-in-residence emeritus at University of Louisiana at Lafayette (formerly University of Southwestern Louisiana). Many of Gaines’ works are taught in schools and are celebrated in the canon of world literature. Some of his most-read are The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Gathering of Old Men.

Díaz is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a co-founder of Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA) workshop and advocates for writers of color. He also is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship and PEN/O. Henry Award.

The evening will culminate in the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2015 in the categories of debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The ceremony draws an audience of more than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia. The 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by writers from the United States as well as the international Black writing community. Winners of the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, also will be honored.

 

The Nominees for the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are:

Debut Fiction

Mourner’s Bench by Sanderia Faye (The University of Arkansas Press)

The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson (Penguin Press)

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown and Company)

Fiction

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company)

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson (William Morrow)

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Nonfiction

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander (Grand Central Publishing)

Confronting Black Jacobins: The United States, the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic by Gerald Horne (Monthly Review Press)

Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk (Amistad)

Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture by Ron Stodghill (Amistad)

Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness by Harriet A. Washington (Little, Brown and Company)

The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America by D. Watkins (Hot Books/Skyhorse Publishing)

Poetry

Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan (The University of Georgia Press)

Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (University of Pittsburgh Press)

How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes (Penguin Books)

It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time by Angela Jackson (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)

Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis (Alfred A. Knopf)

The judges:

Debut Fiction — Mitchell S. Jackson, Laila Lalami and Nelly Rosario

Fiction — Jeffery Renard Allen, April Mosolino and Nancy Rawles

Nonfiction — Charles E. Cobb Jr., Natalie Hopkinson and Lawrence P. Jackson

Poetry — Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Evie Shockley and Patricia Smith

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Winners Announced in the 2016 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announces the winners of the 2016 Award for College Writers in fiction and poetry.
In the fiction category, John S. Wilson III of Princeton University wins the $1,000 prize for his story “4, 6, 8.” The honorable mention in fiction and $250 goes to Clynthia Burton Graham of the University of Baltimore for her story “Miss Sage’s Anniversary Celebration.”
In the poetry category, Joy Priest of Rutgers University-Newark wins the $1,000 prize for her collection of eight poems. Two honorable mention prizes of $250 go to Vanity Hendricks-Robinson of Manhattanville College and Latasha D. Johnson of SUNY College at Brockport.
The fiction judge was Tiphanie Yanique, a novelist, 2015 Legacy Award honoree, and a professor in the MFA program at the New School in New York City. Commenting on the winning selection, Yanique said, “The prose was lovely and often bold on the level both of word choice and sentence.”
The poetry judge was Roger Reeves, a poet, 2015 Legacy Award honoree in poetry, and assistant professor of poetry at the University of Chicago. Reeves said, Priest’s work “exhibited an amazing amount of formal range and figurative rigor.”
The Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers is presented to Black college writers in the genres of fiction and poetry. For the third year, the award will be presented through the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of Amistad said, “Amistad is invested in the growth of young writers. One of the ways we proudly show our support is by funding the College Writers Award.”
The award – the longest running program of the Hurston/Wright Foundation – encourages college creative writers with support early in their writing careers. Deborah Heard, executive director of the foundation, said “This early recognition has been rewarding for many young writers who go on to successful publishing careers.” Former Hurston/Wright college writers who have found publishing success include Brittany Bennett, Nate Marshall, Natalie Baszile, Mitchell S. Jackson, Jacinda Townsend, Tayari Jones, Ravi Howard, and David Anthony Durham.

The college winners and honorable mentions will be honored at the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Friday October 21st. The evening features the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as the presentation of awards for career achievements, before an audience of more than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, politics, arts,  and academia. The 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by writers from the United States as well as the international Black writing community

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Publishers Weekly covers the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards

Founded to support African-American literature and named after celebrated black writers Zora Neal Hurston and Richard Wright, the nonprofit Hurston/Wright Foundation marked its 25th anniversary with the appointment of a new executive director. The foundation also announced the winners of the annual H/W Legacy Awards, given for literary achievement.

One of the foundation’s activities is sponsoring the H/W Legacy Awards, annual literary prizes presented to the best African-American-focused books of the year. The awards were presented last week at a gala ceremony at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Read the article

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Washington Post covers the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards

National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa read works they wrote in tribute to Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston, who once said that black writers “passed nations through their mouths.”

“Her two calico dresses are with her for sure. A good strong bonnet, one jar of sea shells all stuffed away,” Finney read, her voice booming into the mic. “You will find the indigo swirling from neck to him to rim on every bit of everything. The same color of the southern sky that is impossible to wash out.”

Read the article

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