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Poetry News



On June 7, 2012, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the appointment of Natasha Trethewey as the 19th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.  Dr. Billington said of Ms. Trethewey, "Natasha Trethewey is an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.  Her poems dig beneath the surface of history--personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago--to explore the human struggles that we all face."

Click here to learn more. 




Crystal Good's debut collection of poetry, Valley Girl, is being praised as a "bold, disarming, plucky and feisty" work in the tradition of the Affrilachian Poets.  Ms. Good is a poet, advocate and community leader in West Virginia.  The 2009 winner of the NAACP Image Award and the 2010 Trail Blazer Award, she has been honored both for her artistic achievement and her service to West Virginia communities.

Click here to view Crystal Good's reading of her poem Boom Boom.



On May 29, 2012 Toni Morrison was among the honorees at the White House to receive the Medal of Freedom presentd by President Obama.  The thirteen recipients were chosen for their contributions to society.  President Obama recalled reading Morrison's "Song of Solomon" in his youth and "not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to think."   

Click here to view the ceremony. 



The United States Post Office has recently released ten great Twentieth-Century Poets on the Forever stamps.  The poets honored include Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams—a group that include winners of numerous Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and honorary degrees. The reverse of the pane of 20 stamps includes an excerpt from one poem by each of the ten poets. Most of the honorees are American born, one exception being Joseph Brodsky, an exile from the Soviet Union who became the first foreign-born poet to be appointed Poet Laureate of the United States.



The Reginald F. Lewis' ad for summer programming includes Among Poets which is a selection of photographs of the late Maryland Poet Laureate, Lucille Clifton, who is also featured in the museum's permanent exhibition.  The images, which were photographed and collected by Lynda Koolish, show Clifton and her poet friends, some with Maryland ties.  Among Poets is presented in conjunction with a concurrent exhibition about Clifton at Enoch Pratt free Library, in honor of her June birthday.  Curated and coordinated in conjuction with the Furious Flower Poetry Center and the Center's executive director Joanne Gabbin. 



The 2012 Pultizer Prize for Poetry has been awarded to Tracy K. Smith for her most recent book of poetry, Life On Mars.  With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence.

"A collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain."- 2012 Pulitzer Prize Committee  




The Daryl Cumber Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement

At the 2012 College of Language Association Convention in Atlanta, in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of the College Language Association and the 25th Anniversary of the Wintergreen Women Writers' Collective, Trudier Harris and Joanne Gabbin honored Professor Daryl Dance as the first recipient of the Daryl Cumber Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement.  The award will be given biennially and carries with it a monetary award of $1,000.  Future recipients will be chosen from members of the College Language Association with a minimum of twenty years in the academic profession and having earned a national and/or international reputation for excellence in her or his area of literary expertise or creativity.



Affrilachian Poets

Appalachia is often imagined as rural and white, but a new wave of African American writers is challenging the notion of a single Appalachian region and culture. They call themselves Affrilachians.  Dr. Joanne Gabbin brought Affrilachian poets Frank X. Walker, Crystal Good and Kelly Norman Ellis to JMU for readings and workshops on March 22-24, 2012 as part of the” Poetry as Compass:  A Collegiate Summit.”  With Good Reason spoke with the poet who invented the word Affrilachia, Frank X. Walker (University of Kentucky), and featured readings from Mr. Walker, Crystal Good and Hope Johnson.

Click here to hear the interview. 



On March 8, 2012  Myra Sklarew, Professor Emerita of Literature at American University and member of the Furious Flower Poetry Center Advisory Board, joined E. Ethelbert Miller, Director of the African American Studies Resource Center at Howard University, for an interview with Steven Roy Goodman.  Mr. Goodman is the host of the program Higher Education Today produced at the University of the District of Columbia.  The topics ranged from poetry to creative residential communities.


Click here to watch the interview



Congratulations to Malaika King Albrecht, Furious Flower Poetry Center Advisory Board member, on the publication of her latest book of poems What The Trapeze Artist Trusts.  For more information about Ms. King Albrecht and her work, please click here.   




Professor and poet, Rita Dove, received the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in a ceremony held at the White House on February 13, 2012.  Before awarding Ms. Dove her medal, it was said that "... Ms Dove creates works that are equal parts beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics."  In addition to being the only American to receive all three of the nation's highest arts and humanities distinctions, Ms. Dove received a Pulitzer Prize for her literary work in 1987 and served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993-1995. 

Click here to view the ceremony.





That's the word poet Naomi Long Madgett used to describe how she felt when she got the call last month telling her that she had been chosen to receive the Kresge Foundation's prestigious Eminent Artist Award -- the first woman in the award's four-year history to receive it. 

"It took me completely by surprise," said Madgett, Detroit's poet laureate.  

The award comes with a $50,000 prize.  But it's not the money that most pleases Madgett, 88.  She is most pleased that the award recognizes her poetry, but especially that it honors her work as a teacher, mentor, and publisher.

  "The main thing I have wanted to do in my life is make a positive difference in the lives of others," she said.  "If I had enough money to live without getting a salary, I would have taught for nothing." 


Sonia Sanchez, poet, teacher, and activist, was named Philadelphia's first poet laureate on December 29, 2011.  Mayor Michael Nutter said during the ceremony, "Poetry is an extraordinary and powerful art form.  Ms. Sanchez exemplifies the role a poet can play in helping to define a city and helping its citizens discover beauty."  To read more, click here.







Nikky Finney is the winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Head Off & Split.  In her inimitable style and spirit of humility, she recognizes the history of those who made such sacrifices, even to the point of life and limb, to read and write.  Here is the link to Nikky Finney's acceptance which John Lithgow, the host of the awards ceremony, called "the best acceptance speech he had ever heard." 

Click here to view the ceremony. 



Drinking Gourd chapbook poetry prize


Northwestern University’s Poetry and Poetics Colloquium (PPC) proudly announces a partnership with Northwestern University Press for the inaugural Drinking Gourd chapbook poetry prize, a first-book award for poets of color.

This will be an annual award combining the efforts of Northwestern’s Poetry and Poetics Colloquium and Northwestern University Press in celebrating and publishing works of lasting cultural value and literary excellence. Seeking to showcase the work of emerging poets of color, volumes in the Drinking Gourd series will be selected by a panel of distinguished minority poets and scholars and will feature a short introduction by a senior writer of color.

The first prize Drinking Gourd chapbook will be introduced by the renowned poet, Ed Roberson, who will also publish an accompanying chapbook of new work to launch the series.

The submission deadline is January 15th, 2012, and the winner will be notified by March 15th.  The two chapbooks will be published in Fall 2012 by Northwestern University Press.


Yusef Komunyakaa was been named as a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award.  Komunyakaa's book of poetry, The Chameleon Couch, was published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

“This 14th collection from Komunyakaa does not wear its ostensible subject—how to continually reinvent life when the past constantly wells up within   the present—on its sleeve. But over the course of these poems, Komunyakaa revisits his shared love of jazz with the poet William Matthews, an earlier ease with multiple lovers ("back when it was easy to be/ at least two places at once"), an impossible-to-forget era where "a black boy or girl sent to the grocery store... / could disappear between a laugh &/ a cry," and, in a poem of the same title, "A Voice on an Answering Machine" that belongs to someone dead (who "lives between the Vale of Kashmir & nirvana, beneath a bipolar sky"). The ease and lack of defensive ornament allow a new kind of autobiographical poem to emerge, a daybook-like chronicle of what it is to have the freedom in later life to remake oneself moment by moment, while accommodating all that one has done, and those one has loved, before. The last poem, "Ontology and Guinness" is at once a joyous celebration of Obama's election and an effortlessly self-elegizing cenotaph. That the poem, which also sings the praises of a certain stout, holds together at all is a testament to its maker's will and invisible skill.” –Publishers Weekly  

To read more about this year's National Book Award, visit www.opb.org/nationalbookawards.



With Good Reason Interview of Award-Winning Poet Sonia Sanchez 

Recently, Furious Flower Poetry Center hosted “Continuous Fire: A Seminar on the Poetry of Sonia Sanchez.”  During the seminar, Sonia Sanchez sat down with Sarah McConnell of With Good Reason.  McConnell also interviewed Dr. Brenda M. Greene of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College about Sanchez’s work.  Listen to their discussion here.


NEA Funds New Attie & Goldwater Doc: BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez 

The June 8, 2011 The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced support for Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon's new documentary, BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez.  The media arts grant will go to Women Make Movies, the nonprofit fiscal sponsor for BaddDDDD Sonia Sanchez. 

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez looks at the life and work of the world-renowned African-American poet/playwright/ educator/activist. At the age of 76, she continues to flourish personally and politically, inspiring and mentoring a new generation of poets and hip-hop artists. 

Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, Producers/Directors of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, have worked together making documentaries on women’s issues and women artists since 1990. Their collaborative work was recognized in 2005 with a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and in 2008 with a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in Media. Their most recent documentary, Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter, is an ITVS co-production and was broadcast on PBS in February 2011 as part of the AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series. 

Other funders for BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez include the Leeway Foundation and the Lomax Family Foundation. 

To learn more about the project, go to the website at www.attiegoldwater.com.