Mailbox – Rita Dove & Glory Edim to receive Hurston/Wright Merit Awards

www.hurstonwright.orgWASHINGTON, D.C. – The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation will present merit awards to two luminaries in their fields at the 2019 Legacy Awards Ceremony on Friday, October 18 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 Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S Poet Laureate. Glory Edim, founder of the Well-Read Black Girl book club, will receive the Madam C.J. Walker Award for her dedication to supporting and sustaining Black literature.

Legacy Awards for books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry also will be presented during the ceremony, from a slate of 18 nominees chosen in a juried competition.

Rita Dove is one of America’s most accomplished living writers. A prolific poet whose work is known for its lyricism and attention to history, Dove was U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993-1995 and Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress—the first African American and the youngest person to have been appointed to that position. In 1987, her verse-novel Thomas and Beulah won the Pulitzer Prize. Her other books of poetry include Collected Poems 1974-2004, American Smooth, and Sonata Mulattica, for which she won the 2010 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in poetry, and many others. In 1996 her verse drama, The Darker Face of the Earth, had its premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was produced at the Kennedy Center and the Royal National Theatre. Dove has promoted poetry throughout the United States and the world and is known to mentor younger generations of writers. Currently she serves as poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine.

Glory Edim is founder of  Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club turned into a literary vital space/digital platform for Black women readers and writers. A social media mass phenomenon, Well-Read Black Girl now brings the literature of Black women to thousands of people around the world while still retaining the intimacy of its first in-person book club. In fall 2017, Edim organized the club’s first festival. She also edited the recent anthology Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves (2018). “Our goal is to showcase the universality of Black women through literature,” Edim says. “Through reading, our community addresses racial inequity in publishing and pays homage to the literary legacies of Black women writers like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou.”

The 2019 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 2018 in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. More than 150 books were submitted by publishers and self-published authors. The judges – all Legacy Award Honorees in previous years – worked independent of the foundation to evaluate the books for artistic excellence and contribution to the literary canon.

The Nominees for the 2019 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are:

Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)
A Lucky Man, Jamel Brinkley (Graywolf Press)
Brother, David Chariandy (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Washington Black, Esi Edugyan (Alfred A. Knopf)
She Would Be King, Wayétu Moore (Graywolf Press)
Heads of the Colored People, Nafissa Thompson-Spires (37Ink/Atria, a Simon & Schuster imprint)

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster, Stephen L. Carter (Henry Holt and Company)
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, Brittney Cooper (St. Martin’s Press)
Tigerland: 1968-1969 A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, Wil Haygood (Alfred A. Knopf)
Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon (Scribner, a Simon & Schuster imprint)
May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, Imani Perry (The University of North Carolina Press)
The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart (Oxford University Press)

Approaching the Fields, Chanda Feldman (Louisiana State University Press)
Divida, Monica A. Hand (Alice James Books)
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, Terrance Hayes  (Penguin Books, a Penguin Random House imprint)
Pardon My Heart, Marcus Jackson (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
Mend, Kwoya Fagin Maples (University Press of Kentucky)
Crosslight for Youngbird, Asiya Wadud (Nightboat Books)

The judges
Fiction: Lesley Nneka Arimah, Patricia Elam, and Reginald McKnight
Nonfiction: Debra J. Dickerson, Keith Gilyard, and Kali Nicole Gross
Poetry: Adrian Matejka, Myronn Hardy, and Donika Kelly

The Legacy Awards celebration is a two-day event that begins on Thursday, October 17th with a reading and book signing featuring the nominated authors and culminates in a ceremony on Friday, October 18th, 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.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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