Tag Archives: Literary Awards

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 www.hurstonwright.org 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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Hurston Wright…and some musings

Just as we share with you the Opportunities and remind you of the upcoming submission deadlines, we like to share with you the accolades and achievements. This time, it’s the Hurston Wright Legacy Awards named for two of the giants of African American literature, Harlem Renaissance Writers Zora Neale Hurston


A good read.

(Their Eyes Were Watching God) and Richard Wright (Native Son) – p.s. if you haven’t read both books you need to correct that immediately; though my favourite is Their Eyes Were Watching God of Janie and Teacake fame (you can also read her story Conscience of the Court in Reading Room 19 to get you started), Bigger Thomas in Native Son is a character that seared himself in to the American psyche and in to mine when I read him many decades later at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

But back to the 15th Annual Legacy Awards, the ceremony of which is planned for October 21st in Washington D.C.

Recipients listed below.

North Star Award Recipient:
Ernest J. Gaines –  the award-winning author of A Lesson Before Dying, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and numerous other acclaimed novels.

The North Star Award, the foundation’s highest honor, pays homage to the beacon that guided enslaved Africans to freedom. The recipients of the award are individuals whose writing careers represent brilliant accomplishment and whose service to the writing community inspires others.

Ella Baker Award Recipient:
Junot Díaz -the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, will receive the Ella Baker Award. Díaz is also the author of Drown and This is How You Lose Her, and the co-founder of Voices of Our Nation Arts workshop.

The Ella Baker award, named for the heroic civil rights activist, recognizes writers and arts activists for exceptional work that advances social justice.

I’ll admit (though I’m not proud of this) that Mr. Gaines is still on my to-read list but his work has so permeated the collective consciousness that I am very much aware of A Lesson Before Dying and the Autobiography of Ms. Jane Pittman, the latter of which was made in to an award winning film starring the incomparable Cicely Tyson.

Díaz, meanwhile, had me at The Brief Wondrous Life is Oscar Wao, the Pulitzer prize winning book is a mind-blowing experience. I’ve read other excerpts from his writing since, and been impressed with how he uses his voice to speak on issues that matter like the treatment of Haitians in the Dominican Republic (and specifically, in partnership with another literary rock star and shero of mine Haitian-American writer Edwidge Dandicat, the planned deportation of Haitian-Dominicans due to a retroactive and regressive law) and the lack of diversity (or “the unbearable too-whiteness”) in the reading material in the creative writing programmes at US universities and colleges. Kudos to both men.

Following are those now in contention (thanks to submissions and nominations) for the 2016 Legacy Awards.

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)

You’ve heard me talk about Naomi Jackson, who is American of Antiguan and Barbadian heritage, around these parts before; so you know which book I’m rooting for:


Cover art by Bajan artist Sheena Rose.


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)

T. Geronimo Johnson has been on my to-read list since I read about him a year ago in a literary magazine en route from New Orleans – in my mind he’s a part of that experience and from the interview, his narrative voice tugged at me. Beatty’s The Sellout, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees, and Hannaham’s Delicious Foods were also already on my to-read list – in the so many books so little time category. It’s worth noting that St. Kitts-born writer Caryl Phillips is also one of ours; I haven’t read this one (as I have The Final Passage and Dancing in the Dark) though the synopsis suggests a high concept, highly literary read which is what I’ve come to expect.

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)

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)

Elizabeth Alexander and Vievee Francis would maybe get my vote by default here (you know, if my vote counted) as, with the exception of these two, I’m not familiar with the names in these last two categories. But, of course, non/awareness of the writer is no way to judge a literary comp so I have no doubt the judges will do better due diligence than that. As for me, I have additional names for my to-read list, which, at this rate, I’ll be reading in to the hereafter as it keeps growing. But I’ll end simply with the reminder that these comps matter not to say your art is better than mine but really to boost the recognition of a valuable piece of art; so where we have the opportunity to pay it forward by helping to boost a writer whose work we respect and like, we should. And, as always, wherever the opportunity presents itself, we should go for ours as well. See Opportunities and Opportunities Too links for how you can do both.

Finally, since this site is about youth and arts, I should note that College Writing Awards in Fiction and Poetry will also be presented during the Hurston Wright Legacy Awards. Hurston Wright supports developmental initiatives like the Hurston Wright Writers Week and you can support them by purchasing tickets to the awards (if you are in the D. C. area)  at www.hurstonwright.org

-post by Joanne C. Hillhouse (readily admitting that I know nothing, Jon Snow). You can read about my own writing at jhohadli



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Forward On by Dante Barton

Forward On

Author: Dante Barton

Winner: Short story 11
& under

Once there was a vicious tiger that terrorized and stole the food
from two villages. Sadly, the two villages hadn’t liked each other for a long
time, and often fought over the little things. One day, the tiger seriously
injured a child from each village. The villagers finally realized that the only
way to solve the problem of the tiger was to work together and trap it. A great
trap was set by the two villages, and the tiger was caught and sold to the zoo.
Then the villagers realized that once they work together they can move forward.



Winning pieces from the 2011 Independence Literary Arts Competition are published here, with the chairperson’s permission, for the purpose of showcasing the talent displayed during the competition. Copyright of these pieces remain the preserve of the writers and, as is the case with all Wadadli Youth Pen Prize/Wadadli Pen, content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders. All other site content is created by me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) or, in the case of winning Wadadli Pen stories, the specific authors unless otherwise indicated. The same rules apply.

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I Whisper by Jordée Josiah

I Whisper, “Forward On”

Author: Jordée Josiah
Winner Poetry 12 – 17 years

I chose to whisper
because it seems like the only form of the spoken word we listen to;

The only form we garner
our energies to appreciate.

The whisper says I’m
scared of the beginning, not the ending, because of the faith that is needed to
start every new journey.

Do I trust myself to
take the first step?

Or do I stay where I am
and keep wishing for the end?

Do I try to make a
difference, or do I follow my ancestors and sleep forever?

Do I become the coward
that hides in his own shadow?

Why choose to hold onto
the end of the rope dangling over a cliff when the rest of the rope is in

Why not hold tight and
climb to new heights?

Just like the moth is
not the death of day but the life of night,

So each of us is here
for a different time, season, and purpose.

We all hear the whisper,
“Forward On.”

We know it means to let
go of the past and step into a new era.

When are we going to
become the whisper and tell ourselves, friends, family and country,

To Forward On, and to
take only what we need to make a better future?

Winning pieces from the 2011 Independence Literary Arts Competition are published here, with the chairperson’s permission, for the purpose of showcasing the talent displayed during the competition. Copyright of these pieces remain the preserve of the writers and, as is the case with all Wadadli Youth Pen Prize/Wadadli Pen, content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders. All other site content is created by me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) or, in the case of winning Wadadli Pen stories, the specific authors unless otherwise indicated. The same rules apply.


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