Mailbox – Hurston Wright

Below is the release from the Hurston Wright Foundation in Washington re their annual awards. For those not aware Hurston Wright, named for two towering figures in African American literature (Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright), is a programme that offers development programmes (like Hurston Wright week) and activities to celebrate literature by Blacks from America and the African diaspora. Past Antiguan-Barbudan nominees have included Marie Elena John for her novel Unburnable. This year, from the Caribbean, Kwame Dawes makes the list. Shout out to all the nominees. I think you will easily recognize other names and must-reads on this list; I know I do.Zora Neale Hurston


Ntozake Shange and Charles Henry Rowell To Receive Merit Awards
Legacy Award Nominees Announced for October Ceremony

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation will present merit awards to two pioneers in their fields at the 2018 Legacy Awards Ceremony on Friday, October 19 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 Ntozake Shange, poet and playwright who created the iconic For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.  Charles Henry Rowell, founder and editor of Callaloo Literary Journal, will receive the Madam C.J. Walker Award for his dedication to supporting and sustaining Black literature.

Ntozake Shange is one of America’s greatest living writers—an acknowledged master in the genres of drama, fiction, memoir, and poetry. Her theater piece For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf (dubbed a “choreopoem” for its highly original combination of music, poetry, and dance) was a stunning success on Broadway in 1976-1977, and has been performed continuously since then both in the United States and abroad. It is a staple on the required reading lists of many major school districts, colleges and universities, and was made into a movie by Tyler Perry in 2010. In a hugely prolific career, Shange has written 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, 6 novels, 5 children’s books, 3 collections of essays, and a partial memoir called Lost in Language & Sound.  Among her more notable novels are Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo; Betsey Brown (about her childhood and the Civil Rights movement in St. Louis), and Liliane: Resurrection of the Daughter. Her newest volume of poetry, Wild Beauty, was published in November 2017.

Charles Henry Rowell is editor of Callaloo, which he founded and first began publishing in 1976, when he was teaching English at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At that time, Callaloo focused on the literature and culture of the Black South, but the indefatigable Dr. Rowell soon extended the scope of the quarterly journal to include literary and cultural work by writers and visual artists throughout the African Diaspora. But Callaloo—now sponsored by Texas A&M University at College Station and published by the Johns Hopkins University Press—is more than an acclaimed literary journal or magazine. Callaloo and the outreach programs it sponsors have long been a veritable literary and cultural center, publishing an academic literary and cultural monograph series, a series of international annual Callaloo conferences, and annual creative Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops in Barbados, England, and the USA. Dr. Rowell has spent his long higher-education career teaching, editing and, most importantly, identifying, encouraging, supporting, developing, and publishing new and emerging, as well as established, writers in the USA and in other countries of the African Diaspora.

The 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by Black writers from the United States and around the world. The evening will culminate in the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2017 in the categories of debut novel, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. More than 140 books were submitted by publishers and self-published authors. The judges – all Legacy Award Honorees in previous years – worked independently of the foundation to evaluate the books for artistic excellence and contribution to the literary canon.

The Nominees for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are:

Debut Novel
What We Lose, Zinzi Clemmons (Viking)
The Talented Ribkins, Ladee Hubbard (Melville House Publishing)
An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon (Akashic Books)

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead Books)
The Tragedy of Brady Sims, Ernest J. Gaines (Vintage Contemporaries)
Dance of the Jakaranda, Peter Kimani (Akashic Books)
Black Moses, Alain Mabanckou (The New Press)
The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso (Picador)
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)

Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., Danielle Allen (Liveright)
Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy, Sheryll Cashin (Beacon Press)
Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, Camille T. Dungy (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits, Tiya Miles (The New Press)
Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education, Noliwe Rooks (The New Press)
The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Michael W. Twitty (Amistad)

City of Bones, Kwame Dawes (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
Trophic Cascade, Camille T. Dungy (Wesleyan University Press)
In the Language of My Captor, Shane McCrae (Wesleyan University Press)
Ordinary Beast, Nicole Sealey (Ecco)
Semiautomatic, Evie Shockley (Wesleyan University Press)
Incendiary Art, Patricia Smith (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)

The judges
Debut Novel: Angela Flournoy, Donna Hemans, Ravi Howard
Fiction: Amina Gautier, Chinelo Okparanta, JJ Amaworo Wilson
Nonfiction: Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, E. Patrick Johnson,William P. Jones
Poetry: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, A.Van Jordan, Willie Perdomo

The Legacy Awards celebration is a two-day event that begins on Thursday, October 18th with a reading and book signing featuring the nominated authors and culminates in a ceremony on Friday, October 19th, that draws an audience of more than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia. Previously announced 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.Visit for event details.

About the Hurston/Wright Foundation: The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation was founded in 1990 in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to discovering, mentoring and honoring Black writers. Through workshops, master classes and readings, the organization preserves the voices of Black writers in the world literary canon, serves as a community for writers, and continues a tradition of literary excellence in storytelling established by its namesakes. The Hurston/Wright Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Learn more at

This program was supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


As with all content on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.


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