tv 2013 Anisfield- Wolf Book Awards CSPAN October 5, 2013 11:00pm-12:41am EDT
join the military because of your eyesight? >> guest: yes. about one year ago i have laser surgery i used to read all the stuff write-up to my eyeball. i wanted to be a tanker and it took rotc in college. >> host: can you see yourself writing anything beyond cia or military? >> i write the kind of books that i like to read.
white to woman now one of the first if not the first prize is in celebration of what to do recall excellence and diversity. an extraordinary person anisfield-wolf and she would have been it used to be named to the black pulitzer prize at least up down on the cover of the saturday review in 1941, martin luther king himself won its coverage of the five years ago under the leadership under montagu a dear friend friend, it was transformed to focus on artistic excellence and today we use the buzz word cultural diversity. i was put on the selection
committee and a foundation generously asked if i would be the chair. so we've restructured it and i asked my friends and my colleague and the man that i met and i asked if they would compose a jerry -- a jury and they agreed. and we have a good time arguing about the 400 bucks and it is a miracle. [laughter] but it takes actual people on the ground you can see rise what a prize should be and how splendid and rewarding the event should unfold but it makes people on the ground to manifest the vision. i think it is to be fitting if we all joined in
celebrating and honoring someone for so many years to legitimatize the spirit of edith anisfield-wolf as she retired from this position last year because her husband was ill but we have become very good friends over the years. those of you in the know know there would not be this marvelous events without mary louise. please give that up. [applause] and so many people our priggish u.s. it could be just flood but i want you to miss me by realizing how important i was a your event falls apart.
you know, what i am talking about. [laughter] not to be released she hand-picked her successor the literary journalist karen long id we have worked with her for years who we are now in excellent hands. [applause] please stand up. so now is showtime. as many of you know, i have something of interest in to reality. whether technology research natalie for one's origins but understanding them. with the best of circumstances generative but this quality that has been evidenced on every page of
the third collection of paul web from eugene gloria "my favorite warlord" the winner of poetry book award. they generate a geography to map out the exploration of home and exile place a and displacement departure and arrival and ultimately a return. there are touchstones throughout. the warlord, the father, brother, the chinese-american. plotting points along the riders pass 35 and one name or one place or one year can resonate to give "the reader" different directions different points of the journey to. just take the example the year 1967. that is the name that one
famed for target for -- photographer looking for images of freaks while'' all of us stayed put in our small but brilliant constellation managing to escape unscathed from the cameras long days. also the year he writes, curiously enough to which another goes to jail on trumped up charges and said t2 the allegory the laundromat also then they to 67 so important as these attest in the personal life and this is the years he thinks of with his mother-in-law in ' she hints be a bean cake comes to his
mind as also'' the woman she was in 1967 giving birth to my wife. what i find it so resonant in all of these poems is the idea of multiplicity and we possess many identities from the diverse forces back to education to the coming-of-age in the same neighborhood and i quote janis joplin shored up supplies from the quarter tidies crusher of wind from the delightful:kevin suze led to the second poet who here on earth that the poet and his wife had their favor in a chinese restaurant sets the tone of the volume for me. the boosted list by bright faces, time in chinese and
hundreds of years on their faces its, schoolteachers and witnesses of tear office clerks and in the same moment at the same place we are 70 different things at the very same time. "my favorite warlord" is the third book of poetry. the first do the one published in 2000 and another published 2006 the former poet laureate said indyk'' demonstrates a central quality of poetry the depth of language the power to get past the first services of words and things are to put it differently to parity harmony beyond the obvious to find a new undertones of meaning.
like that. a fulbright scholar graduate , memorial awards, national poetry series selection and asian-american literary award, and he has had fellowships and residencies and a resident artist program it in virginia from creative arts this past spring he was pulling reinstate university college of arts in science distinguished fellowship. he grew up tendered his bachelor's degree at stanford discussed eight his master's degree at miami university and at the fasb to receive organ currently professor of english at depaul university in indiana. it is with good reason "my
favorite warlord" was the first election for a discussion in the brownback book club at the ohio center of the book at the cleveland public library that each of the books will be honored tonight to the month of october. ladies and gentlemen,, for his deep exploration of origins and identity before his lyrical embrace of diversity eugene gloria is the recipient of the 2013 anisfield-wolf book award for poetry. [applause] ♪ >> indianapolis that
restaurant on the on that street a bad neighborhood even after the reagan. our waiter is also the proprietor to say peter it has been weeks to come to each we have been hankering for your thoughts. come. we know we want the same meal we always order even the number one appetizer my wife and number three. i will have members 38 and number 30. the tables are that vietnamese ty and chinese in filipino in hundreds of years on their faces. schoolteachers, witnesses and tear and readers of chekhovian office clerks with inner lives. then the man with this overshirt comes in to pick up the takeout order he is tall and has pockmarks like
my father in almost could be my father except for the bonterre. over -- over the number one in number three appetizer's we're speculating with a man comes from. manila or saigon but then comes peter with our order of steaming bowls in our faces are shaving. said reface the lantern link fitting lengthening in here on earth near a curtain by raising a subset of the far corners floating to the center and in ireland in landlocked america we are vietnamese and filipino and we are all of us. post exotics. [applause]
the next poem is about to francisco features with sister in a very difficult white but i apologize to all ready to her in the advance about that experience it is called allegory of the laundromat. >> another romance to third in one month how could she help his love would remain steadfast when he turned her secret? 1967 with the world on the brink of record snowfall in chicago astronauts burning in the space capsule and being charged of trumped up charges reciprocating a riot. here comes the night is what
my sister heard three backyards away on the rooftop. he waved his drumsticks my sister pushing for another band then ambushed then to seek refuge in spanish harlem thin to plow to kids on a porch the year my sister was almost raped at a laundromat. saturday in san francisco my sister negotiating between delicate tim perma-press and dark socks with danger and romance. no escaping the task of laundry with loads of pardalotes she carted from the flat. she was indentured not the nuns to taken the trouble teens but to a mother at work on the weekend. when a man loves a woman who
played the scratched 45 over and over from the bedroom about the flat. there was no escaping the way the man in the brown dirty jacket in and year in the laundromat that afternoon. he came from behind into the left hand across her mouth and the other on her crotch then she described as a way of a heart to the rhythm of the rinse cycle. here comes the knife was not playing in her head but the drummer walked in on the way to the park with the black riots with all the rage and it was hotter than a mulliken july. with the flood of runaways from nebraska who does not care about the in delicate balance of the wash. [applause]
i will close with this poem it is a love poem to read wife in the city of detroit. my wife carries the city like a pebble in the heel of her sock my mother-in-law in the front seat we are driving through we come here for holidays and family. in the hub of the mobile of the city nobody seems to like this. why i cannot say for sure. does not honor a man who
observed all the cardinal rules of jim crow and cassius clay and malcolm x in 1962 and the launch were a boxer extended his arm to shake a hand. baby the total of harlem. -- maybe the photo of harlem. that paid no mind to young cassius clay even later from mohammad of the. nobody likes a black man even when he is right. 1967 he said i don't got a war with the vietcong in suspended he would come around again in thin trees to testify and i tried to locate the history that they are made from the fruitwood trees handcrafted in italy and my mother bought the
set. tree branches and foliage dan rutz and finds everything is spreading across america. this woman hands be a bean cake the woman she was in 1967 giving birth to their life and the blesses car for our picnics across the detroit river where the pass is heaped like an animal sleep on the soft shoulder of the road. [applause] thank you. ♪ >> i was fascinated to learn from an interview that laird
hunt gave that the seeds of his novel "kind one" not reading on slavery of the united states or in his studies of william faulkner. moving for freedom in india -- indian across the ohio river to slavery in kentucky the novel has multiple narrators with of fiscal and metaphysical shift of time and place. but in fact, with the start of this novel over the history of the caribbean slave trade in the haitian revolution, two worlds in which slavery was more brutal than human beings were seen as much more disposable dan here in the united states and that haitian revolution that african slaves and descendants successfully over through the tyrannical
masters the first time in human history. the first-ever in human history that slaves overthrew there masters to set up an independent republic. these two worlds were translated by his rich imagination by what the land to a journal constitution calls a haunting and meditation on the crushing legacy of slavery of the american south and for this profound act translation in the imagination that laird hunt is the recipient of this year's anisfield-wolf book award for fiction just like the steve mcqueen about to be released in october "kind one" explores unflinchingly what the planes dealer calls this soul of america and horror jenny is taken as a new wife
of her second cousin from her home to his pig farm in kentucky. the less promises of this do world evaporates immediately in the face of its violent and dehumanize the reality when his cruelty to her himself is mitigated only by the rape and torture of the two young and black female slaves. ginny herself and flex beating on these women in she is a grotesque copy of him perversely savaging her only shredder of power by violating and further dehumanizing the slaves. after likenesses killed the slaves rise up against her and put shackles on her. underlying the story is a sad sense there could have
been sisterhood possibly there. jetty is the same age after all and space this has beaten her and burned her books cutting her off from language and culture in the free woman's version of the enslavement. but hunt never lets us forget that slavery in the ownership of one human being by another can never be anything the intimate the brutal. it has been reviewed as strike the original and deeply moving book the author calls it is continuing and gorgeous. i return to the idea of translation to think about this book. think about it translation is an act of ideas and beliefs from one place as it
were to another. slavery forces translation to a new place at the same time and seeks to make it impossible by killing language year and killing coulter by attempting to kill any vestige of the past. of "kind one" shows these vestiges always remain in the elements that give us our humanity are not so easily done away with. "kind one" was a finalist for the 2013 faulkner award for fiction and is the fifth novel of laird hunt published in france japan germany spain and turkey the sixth novel never home will be published by the bow brown in the united states. it comes as no surprise that laird hunt is a translator as well of the english works into french and french works into english. under the offer if numerous
stories in reviews and translations that appear in numerous publications. with "the wall street journal" among other places with residencies at the macdowell colony in the land and foundation teaches at the university of denver in the creative writing program where he edits the well-respected journal denver court of the. he moved to rural indiana during his high-school years after a childhood spent in singapore where he was born then san francisco and then to london. he has his bachelor's degree at indiana university. "kind one" seems to be an attempt to penetrate that misunderstanding, but corruption in this translation that slavery has brought on the country and takes us back to full centuries to put as firmly in the present with his questioning of the limits in
the unrelenting the for empathy and morality for the profound assertion that these things matter if we're truly to learn to live together with all of our differences, it "kind one" by laird hunt is the recipient of the 2013 anisfield-wolf book award for fiction. [applause] ♪ >> fate q. dr. gates it is such an honor to be here tonight. to receive this award in such amazing company. all of you with fellow recipients and my family. my father and my sister and
my wife and my daughter who keeps my seat warm in the front row. [laughter] and mike d. -- your friends editor is year as well. i else thinks to those people in particular. i will read from this book and give voice to the storyteller in the novel he was also held in bondage on this farm is in kentucky it is one of the characters closest to my heart who speaks story into some very dark places i hope this will excerpt in to shine some light to the dark part of
this book. so this is the story of the union steve hickey held up the union then went to the counter to check out the big knife and cut off the skin. when it was skin he gave it is neff there was flour and rand bacon fat in chopped apple ends to oyster at the ready. he took a little of each and put them in a light on the counter and picked up the idea and again and turned to us. had as accord attached to the inkle then he slept with a cord attached to the ankle in the yard in the cellar the cold spoke to him into the yard was the trees one night the minister came home with his face painted from
the stage and made about him and tell everything he had struck had fallen. one would not rise and when he woke from the rage she wept and before he finished reaping the onion was. the oyster shell he cut his chord with he kept along with the piece of bacon and a pocket full of flour in he ran to the streets in his legs grew tired and he made them stronger and he continued on. the city stretched before him he ran toward the rising sun nobleman asked why he was running so he took a bite of one apple and turned her into an apple tree. her child turned into an apple tree so he took a bite of the child and turned into a be you he broke off bits
of the bacon and turned them into p.i.g.s. they were chasing after him so he cut them with the shell and when they were killed he let a fire in hong them over then he butcher then input some of them on skewers and cock their fat in the cup he heard barking city carved into a woman when he took a bite she blinked her eyes open then they ran together but she was new and fell behind so he turned her into which we give proper in the pocket the job steve redding said he took some of the flour and put into the air in the year began to burn the dogs ran into the fire in the mini came after them he flong more flour into the air and it filled with water and the dogs drone. he took the twig out of his pocket and turned it back into his wife. they they together on hamas and scratched their back
against the bar can floated above the leaves they had barely finished win she said the men are coming in then he took a bite of his apple in the hearse split asunder then there was say cataclysms then ice smashed at the trees there was a hall in the wind but still the men came and he turned his wife into a stone put her in his pocket and turned himself into a ball and went into the wood in the onion could see his way by the light of the torch is and ever closer embroider the trees around to grow taller you spoke to him a door opened and he went into what. inside the tree the sun was warm and there were soft grasses industry metrical by in sheep in the field and flowers blooming in the old man sat astride able to
smile down at the onion in city braced a year for 10 years but never asked for more. he said that then rode away in the opinion changed itself back and pulled the stone out of his pocket. we can live here for 10 years. yes she said. they built a small house simply to the garden and sat quietly together in the evenings and lay down on soft blankets once he tried to kill one of the sheep in the scampered away laughing so they ate that of which they grew and his wife had children one after the other in they would poke sticks in the stream and play in the field and take the sheep. when the 10 years or almost up the onion climbed up onto the sheep and in search of the man who said they could stay. he went for weeks and once he thought he saw the when he sought and called out to him to lead his family's day and immediately the onion
became confused and could not find his way back to the house. his wife and children beneath him the sheep had died and disappeared. and darkness crept up in the onion heard the masters last he was hot in the hollow of the tree and pig fat ran from his pocket and apples were gone he had no oyster shell. his flower was soaked with fat. that night the audience leapt in the cold cellar with the i year on his ankle with his eyes shut then the next week they rode out of louisville and a procession he wore a yoke in st. with others to pull the wagon in the war changed and was given the thing to eat. thank you very much. [applause]
♪ >> beautiful. each of the book's been ordered to knight teaches is -- teaches us the way families incudes survive but do not always thrive under the main pressures such as violence or illness in radical differences in an identity and more. some families are formed by blood but others are at random but these random families our no less bound together but such a random coming together of people that is explored so brilliantly from the book
"the yellow birds" one of the recipients of the anisfield-wolf book award for fiction. "the yellow birds" may'' be the first literary masterpiece produced by the iraq war. if we could put the fate of the complex book into a few sentences, a "the yellow birds" might say is a story of two soldiers one who survives the war andwho survives the war and private daniel murphy who does not. the first private escher's his mother he will make sure the yonkers soldier comes home at of the war on live. this is a promise of course, that he cannot and does not keep. the story of a forestry and the is told as an experience and hoping and perfect memory and the non linear
design of power is the beautiful and brutal example of style matching contents. powers writes attitude divergent experiences and first from 2004 and 2005 and then as a anaphase student in poetry at the university of texas at austin in the year 2012. how can read under state and rolled war one and then it in other words, we need poet to tell us the human cost of four from politicians to use social scientist that the comes under that rubble how to
tell a true war story if you are more a poet as a novelist? talent as a poet telling as kevin paul -- powers does as 821 debut novel was compared to the things they carry the unmatched fictional depiction of the vietnam. and of course, it is devastating. in that book powers explores the war's end was contradictions that are unified that war is meaningless to build or destroy character but ultimately inevitably it destroys men, women, children. the only group to recognize the importance and gets the other award for fiction the
guardian first award from the american academy of arts in santa letters and the free litter a novel for translation also a finalist for a the book of fiction "the yellow birds" is called sad in the important way it comes out of what the author of the urn from iraq and told "the guardian" called back one of the reasons i wrote the book was the idea people kept saying well was a light over there? it was not information base problem there was a lot of information but what people really wanted to know is what it felt like physically , emotionally and psychologically so that is why i wrote the novel. kevin powers tells us more than we can bear to know at times but this book is a
reminder that the cost of ignorance is too often wore a and death. anisfield-wolf book award 2013 was given to kevin powers for "the yellow birds". ♪ [applause] >> 80 so much for taking in evening for coming to this fantastic event i am recognized by an organization that believes the written word can have great mediant great impact in our lives. so to be here is extraordinary. my wife could not be here by the she is watching on the internet so first i would
like to say i love you. [laughter] [applause] the passage i will read from tonight takes place as the narrator recalls the battle that the unit translator was killed in the middle with telling a story about an old woman started -- garden the larger purpose the reflection is trying to sift through the wreckage of his innocence to find a place for he could locate his own responsibility in and he believes in doing that atonement can begin selling thank you very much i will start with a brief introduction. >> it doesn't count? no. i don't think so. where react?
970. we have to take the paper when we get back. i was the surprise of the cruelty of my ambivalence nothing seems more natural than on somebody getting killed but now i reflect of how to behave as a boy to my position the safety and a warrant -- a warm cabinet to alito myself it was necessary in a needed to continue and i have to see the world with clear eyes to focus:the essentials. we only pay attention to repair things ian death was not rare. rare was a bullet with your name on it those of the things that we watched for. i did not think about much after that he was an incidental figure who own these seemed to exist in relation to my continuing life i could not have articulated and then the now
i realize it is the great unifier bringing people closer together than any other activity on earth. bloodshed. how will you save my life today? dying would be one way but if you die if becomes more likely i will not. you are nothing a uniform in this sea of numbers in this sea of dust in some how we got those numbers were assigned a drone insignificant that if we remained ordinary we would not die and we confuse correlation with caused to draw a special significance in the portraits of the dead next to the number corresponding to their place of the growing list of casualties we read in the newspapers as an order of war and a sense something we only felt it a brief since
the average gone long before we came to iraq but those portraits had been taken as a place as a line when we saw the names number 748 killed by small arms fire in iraq we were sure he would walk as a ghost for years. we thought he was already dead on the flight over if he was scared as the cave into iraq but then he had been invincible until the day he was not. the same to specialist number 914 dead as a result of wounds sustained in a
mortar attack that the regional center we were glad not that she was killed but only that we were not in hopes that she was happy to take a vintage year for special status before she arrived under the of order to hang the freshly washed uniform. of course, we were wrong the biggest error was to see that it mattered what we thought it is answered that we saw that as an affirmation of our lives in each one of those belong to a time that was not ours. we didn't know the list was limitless or think beyond the thousand or never considered we could be among the walking dead as well. used to think living under that contradiction and guided my action with one decision made in the appearance of this philosophy who keeps me off
the list of the dead. i know it isn't like that now that there were no bombs made just for us they would kill us just as well we did not have the time laid out for us or place and i stopped wondering about those inches. the 3 miles per hour difference to put us directly over in idd. in nova was not there when it happened i believe that when he was killed said during the knives were dressed -- addressed to invade it concerned -- to get the concern. not even dying or being ordinary but i would like to think there was a ghost of compassion that if i had a
chance to see them i would have noticed them. his body crumpled up the foot of the building did not shock me i was passed to smoke will lay down below the wall but i could not stop thinking about a woman that a conversation reminded me answer dusty the preseason to impossibly distant berried waiting for a brush to uncover and i remember how she blushed a huge smile and how impossible was for her not to be beautiful despite her age, the paunch and if you teaspoon brown and her skin appearing like a cracked the dried clay of summer. take a very much. [applause] ♪
>> if you are a frequent listener this is the voice that pervades every word as the recipient tissue of the teeth -- anisfield-wolf award for nonfiction this necessary book solomon writes about every family those grappling with challenges that most of us cannot even begin to imagine or i should say challenges that most of us are not able to imagine before reading this beautiful and patient and affirming book writing about the complexity of families in which the child is radically different from the parents giving us a new
idea about what difference and diversity can mean. i spent the last several years professionally in the last decades personally thinking about virtual identities although that was not the term that i applied to recent geological studies. going from solomon jacob heller in his review said the vertical identity is a conduit through which the benefits of shared experience of apathy in insight, a horizontal identity of the other hand is one where there is a rupture between the parents' experiences they seemed to challenge many promises of family interrupt the basic continuity of that relationship and what it presumes. said genealogy of
african-americans is replete historically with all sorts of ruptures between the parents' experiences and imagine that first generation of slaves in this country to have arrived from africa to the new age and enslaved world. could there be rapture more profound? first-generation children born to a those slaves would have known the world radically different from the one their parents could possibly he handed down. still culture and languages and movement it is the vertical connections that so many of us spend time pursuing. but to create worlds in which horizontal identities of the family life through the sheer force of the difference with a diversity
of a heroin ring sort but no less than those we tend to celebrate. it drew sullivan conducted interviews over a decade with 300 families with 40,000 transcript pages the volume of cooling reviews baby about at that level as well. [laughter] it is rare that anisfield-wolf books are reviewed in "nature" magazine but also the description of this nature editor's pick'' mackay is from clinicians to caregivers if you're just a scientist healthy was no disabled person to look after this book will change your view of your own species. i am not sure parents magazine has made it an appearance before either be
here it is. >> one of the rare books that makes readers want to be better people. ''. the usual suspects also the times that calls a breathtaking reading a vivid and gripping account of who we are right now and what exactly happens when we try to make ourselves. "time" magazine puts it in the league of great oral history of timeless and patient in joyful and brave and a triumphant. these are some of the adjectives described and also those to mentally on pack themselves and refuse to leave. the same could be said of the children.
it makes us quite revealing in intriguing ways. .awards given are timothy by walt manchin if you. but seleucus awards from the columbia school of generalissimo in the it distinguished achievement award of nonfiction of crime and delinquency. included on the 2012 best book list of "the new york times" and "the boston globe" is with the cleveland deal. solomon is also receive the society of biological psychiatry humanitarian award is and research foundation and productive lives award. his previous book annapolis
of depression the 2001 book for nonfiction and a finalist of the 2002 pulitzer prize medal leonine fiction writer also an advocate of righting himself having found the solomon research fellowship of lgbt studies at another yale. his other books called the soviet books and one called a stone's vote tonight and proud to say we've followed a traveled and educational path that is similar also going to yale where i was an undergraduate and a professor of the english on the faculty into a kid is a bachelor's degree in english language and literature at jesus college at the university of cambridge where i earned my ph.d. and a red african literature and
a tragedy with my professor. [applause] >> being with maternal identity and donned the way here we were rushed didn't in they steamed in the suits when they could do that. [laughter] in on the way talking about how wonderful was to reach each of the recipients and i said tell me about your andrew solomon and she said he is the mozart of listening. [laughter] i want that on my epitaph. [laughter] but unfortunately that will never happen. [laughter] ladies and gentlemen, for relating to stores that make
us better people of what family and community key and be the anisfield-wolf book award for nonfiction is awarded to a year drew sullivan for the book "far from the tree." [applause] ♪ >> i would like to state my editor and reagent in my family and that this award is currently listed and this is such an unbelievably thrilling award it to win for the history to of one it and others that are here tonight with me in this
distinguished panel of judges. it is a humbling honor. even with purely non religious terms homosexuality represents a misuse of the sexual faculty a little prophetic of reality a pity if all as it deserves no glamorization of rationalization and above although pretense it is anything but a pernicious sickness. that is ty magazine 1966 when i was three years old. and in the last two years both the president of united states and the supreme court have expressed there support for gay marriage. [applause] as they set out to write the book determined to understand how that happened
how did in illness become an identity if that elvis, elvis had become an identity for be in for so many other people living in this particular moment, what are the other illnesses that could become identities? deck also be constructed as an illness? in anecdote from when i was six years old or seven i had gone with my mother and brother to issue store in manhattan after the sales man had fited us with the lease that he said it reached each have a balloon. my brother wanted a red balloon and i wanted a pink balloon. [laughter] and my mother said she thought i would really rather have a blue balloons. [laughter] i said no. i really want a people live in she reminded me of my
favorite color was blue. [laughter] but the fact my favorite color now is blue? [laughter] but i am still gay gives you evidence of my mother's influence a and its limits. [laughter] when i started to work on the book i was interested in the idea of love in became interested that love and acceptance are not actually the same thing. it is my belief in my experience that most parents love their children. some don't we do read the stories of terrible interviews but most do love their children but it takes an effort to accept your children in to have the complicated question which things about your child you should change to improve through education or setting a model or expressing full use or a notion of good
health, mental and physical what you need only to accept because they will the changes and who they are. that line is very difficult. and i was starting the book a little angry at my family because i felt they had not accepted be the second they learned as to what was but as they accumulated the interviews i realized acceptance is a process and that takes time. my family had done pretty well. . .
i didn't know what it was that lay ahead for me, and yet now, for me being gay is an identity, and i considered the question, which skip alluded to, of what i called vertical identities, that are passed down from parent to child, and i separated them from horizontal identities, and i looked at families who are deaf, down's syndrome, us a tim, skits frequenta, disabilities, families musical prodigies because i want to reflect on the idea that what is challenging is different and not the positive or negative association of the
difference. having a -- i looked at families bringing up children conceived in rape because those were families who had an impediment to love that had nothing to do with the child's actual fabric. i looked at the families of people who committed crimes because i wanted to show that experience of having a child who has done something horrifying and figuring out how to love that child is similar to the experience with disability, and i have chapter of families with people who are transgender, and i tried to look at the way the difference existed, and what i felled increasingly strongly is a worked on the book, is a moved from family to family and difference to difference, each of these differences were isolating. there are only so many people who are transgender, only so many families dealing with crime. financial a few musical
prodigies dotted round, even conditions such as syndrome affect a relatively small population if we allow our things to think that all of these families are negotiating an experience of difference, all of these parents have given birth to children where -- or acquired children in one way or another who are fundamentally different from them and all of them are trying to figure out how to make their way through the difference, then we discover the people in these categories aren't living in terrible isolation but are actually embracing community. a lot of the families i met talk about how much meaning they found in having children who were so different from them. and having these children who were the opposite of what they had set out to do, when they had children. and lots of them said to me that ultimately, they felt their bond with these children was even greater than it would have been with a child who was more ordinary. and even they were in awe of the
resilience that those children found and the way that resilience inspired resilience in them. as the mother of one of the dwarfs i interviewed, who the doctors told her to leave her son at the hospital bass he would never be able to function and had instead turned into a charming and delightful young man who was finishing college, the first one in his family to go to college. i said what did you do that allowed hem to emerge as who he is, and his mother said, what did weday do? we -- what did we do? we loved him, that's all. clinton also had the life in him and we were lucky enough to be the first to see it there. and at the beginning i wondered all the time, is the meaning really there? why do some people find the meaning and other people don't find the meaning? one of the mother is interviewed said to me, for us, it's not
believe believing in god that has given us that perspective. people always regail us with little sayings like god didn't give you anymore than your can handle. i have a husband who was supposed to be here but thunderstorms kept him in new york. he is the biological father of two children with some lesbian friends in minneapolis. i have tower with a college friend who had been through a divorce but wanted to have family, and mother and daughter live in texas. then my husband and i have a son who lives with us all the time, of whom i am the biological father and the surrogate for the pregnancy was laura, the mother of john's two biological children. [laughter]
[applause] >> and the day that last child was born, the pediatrician at the hospital told us he was behaving oddly in his first hours of life and that she thought he had a brain defect, and it was -- turned out he didn't have a brain defect. what he had was a cramp. but we had some time of thinking he had a brain defect, and i remember feeling at the time these two things, one, that i wanted my child be okay, i wanted it for him and i wanted it for me as every parent has wanted their children to be okay, but i also knew that if he had some form of difference, that form of difference would become a locus of intimacy for us. it would be his identity of necessity and, if it was to be his identity, it would also be
mine. this award is particularly meaningful to me because it's an award predicated on the question of identity. these many kind diversity i look at, all of them are connected to this idea of identity. and i feel that it wassite politics that rescued me from an element of despair that was present in my earlier life. there has been a tendency much of the time for any group that achieves recognition to alie itself will the one that achieved recognition before and to distance itself from everything on the other side of the ravine. there was a sense certainly that the gay rights movement, of which i'm a beneficiary, followed in the footsteps of the civil rights movement, and there are a lot of gay people who talk all the time about our indebtedness to dr. king and the other people who brought about that confirmation. i feel that debt myself and therefore to win something that is fondly called the black
pulitzer, has particular meaning for me. [applause] ' but i also think it's important not only to reach toward the people who came before, but also to reach toward the people who will come after. and in meeting people in the disability rights movement in the transgender movement in meeting people in the autism rights movements and so on and so forth, i really felt that if there could be no rights for me until there were rights for africa americans there could be no rights for those people until my rights were there, and my deepest belief coming out of this is that until we are all free, none of us is free. [applause] >> and for that reason, i accept this award with utter pride and delight. my thanks to you.
[applause] ♪ thank you, andrew. it's a sing already honor to present this year's anisfield-wolf lifetime achievement award to my teacher, my friend, my hero, wolesoyin california. these awards were established 78 years ago, commitment to social justice and racial equality, and also the art of compulsion to shed light on these matters and to write as if one's life depended on it. he has in fact lived that commitment, and that compulsion, for most of his almost 80 years on earth.
wole soyinka is africa's most accomplished writer in 1986 he was the first african to win the nobel prize for literature. his writing best that human condition under pressures of post modernity, and his political writings are about the challenges of development, modernity, and democracy in post independent africa, and especially in his native nigeria. in his plays, myth and history, are the sites to which he stages the universal drama of the human condition. in the same way, shakespeare situated one of his greeted plays in the difficult choices facing a certain prince in denmark. it's indeed difficult to find exam analogs in the west for the public role in nye year ya and -- nigeria, authors, plays,
novembers, poets,es says, one of the most widely read africa frick writers, inside and outside the continence, and perceived as a force of the political arena with an unquestioned moral authority. a moral authority burnished by years of courageously speaking truth to power, as we say, and putting himself in harm's way. statures and artist depends on his remarkable ability to avoid confusing the realms of art and politics, all the while knowing that the two are inextricably intertwined and giving equal weight to weight and showing is they're separate rhetorical forces and different demands. famously said attempt to force rhetoric to do the work of the imagination. ill all politics is local, as tip o'neill wisely opined, then
so soyinka shows all art is local as well, and life is a doorway through which the great writer ushers us into sublime depictions of the museum condition and the strength to confront and transcend ever recuring challenges of existence that together make us human you. might say he has taken his motto from a line in hamlet. act 3, scene 2. the word to the action. soyinka was born in 1934 in western nigeria. his father was had master of the anglican mission school, and it was here that soyinka received his easterlieers education. school and his lived experiences in traditional religious beliefs
and cultural practices. he attended university college and then went on to the university of lead leeds, where he read tragedy with g. wilson knight, the foremost shakespeare critic of his time, and with arnold kettle, a marxist critic. he began as a reader another london's royal court theater between 1957 and 1959, with the performance of his play was the first of numerous performances of his work that would earn him a place alongside his fellow countryman on the international literary stage. a claim for his work came early on. the british writer wrote of soyinka in 1965. he has done for our natching language what dramaists from ireland have done for centuries, booted it awake, riffled its
pockets and scattered the loot in the middle of next week. the image of the brigand artist is one which soyinka embraced. he said, quote, knew independence in my country was inevitable. freedom should be as normallal as eating and breathing, and i was interested what kind of society we would have. when i saw what was happening i founds it difficult to be silent to the point of criminality. in 1965 he was imprisoned for the first time for making a radio announce. , allegedly -- he was quick to point out he was never convicted -- for making a radio announcement that mocked the results of so-called elections. fellow writers in britain and america and norman mailer, lionel chilling, protested, and soyinka was freed and the
charges dismissed. 1967, hi was arrested again. this time accused of treason at the start of the nigerian civil war. ironically just before his arrest, he met secretly with a leader to plead against the cessation from nigeria, for 27 months, he was in prison, including 22 months in solitary confinement. living under horrific condition and constant threats to his life, deprived almost entirely of books, pens, paper. he nonetheless wrote in secret whenever and whatever he could, on scraps of papers, in margins of the books, on toilet paper. he nearly died more than once but he survived. out of that experience came the book, the man died, what many have called an african jakuse.
the accountant of his imprisonment might contain the most famous line he has written, and i quote: the man dies and all who keep silent in the face of tyranny. he emerged from prison even more firmly wedded to the belief of the capacity of the human will to structure and restructure the world, even a world that takes all possible steps to break that will. the prime si of the will and its strength, even in the face of political forces that will attempt to dismantle or crush it, attains no higher expression than in his play, death of the king0s horseman, a thousand years from now people will still read this marvelous play. the play cajoles and traps figures classical western drama into a literary form that is distinctly african. it stages the conflict among ritual, communal will, and the
political order that attempts to, but cannot render it inactive. i would say crush it, but sometimes the political machine acts out of what it thinks are humane motives, pitting one idea of humanity against another idea of humanity. so just have to read the play itself. to give you just a sense of this masterpiece of the english language, let me share with you the lines that comprise one of most beautiful passages in all of world literature. can you hear me at all? your eyelids are glazed. is it that you see the dark gloom in master of life? will you see my father? will you tell him i stayed with you to the last? will my voice fling -- ring in your ears a while? will they know you over there?
have they eyes to gauge your worth? have they the heart to love you? will they know what thoroughbred prances toward them in comparison0s of honor. i they do not elate you, if anyone there cuts your yam with a small knife or pours your wine in a small glass, turn back, and return to welcoming hands. if the world were not greater than the wishes, i would not let you go. his scholarly, civic and artistic honors are legion, and that's not much music in listing them -- not as much music in listing them as in listening to his words so i'll refrain program naming them, except to say this is not the first time he has been recognized by the
cleveland foundation. his beautiful autobiography of his early years, the years of childhood, read the anisfield book award for nonfiction back in 1983. it's with good reason that he comes back tonight. he once wrote, and i quote, books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth. his fight against tyranny of all sorts and his conviction that the written word is the most reliable and efficient weapon in this fight, are, i believe, precisely what edith an is anistfield-wolf established these awards to honor. ladies and gentlemen, it's my greatest pleasure and my privilege to present the anisfield-woman lifetime achievement award to my dear friend. wole soyinka. [applause]
[applause] >> thank you, thank you very much. thank you. thank you, and good evening. it is evening now, i think. i must begin by thanking the foundation for being so patient with me, because i was supposed to be here last year but i couldn't make it. and instead of just throwing me off the list, they decided to give me another chance, and this time i made sure there was no hitch whatsoever. the second statement i'd like too make is to ask your permission to dedicate this
award tonight to my late friend, heney who -- let just say is one of my most favorite in world literature. he died two weeks ago when i was in nigeria, and has been buried now and there was absolutely no time to bid him adieu. and a number of projects which in fact involved him had to be kept aside since he is no longer with us so with your per, my i'd like to dedicate this award to him. [applause] yes, books -- actually, as i came in this evening, i underwent a very strange and
rather strong emotion. i say strange only because it was not a positive feeling, and everything about this event, the history, the occasion itself, the companionship, is very positive one. and in fact, what give me the strange strong negative feeling was in fact a very positive statement, a positive revelation, which is not all related to an experience which i narrated and what was it in a lady came up to me as i walked in, and said, i read your cheer years of childhood and i felt an affinity with it because the exact same thing happened to me when i was five years old, and
so you actually began school at three. well, my mother took me to school and tried to enroll me, and i was told, no, you have to come back the next year. she said, i was so devastated. and i said, well, you see, my father was the headmaster of the school. and the teacher involved was also a friend of the family. so, sorry. now, why i did not bring back certain serious feelings? i thought immediately of children, like i was, like this lady was, today, in nigeria, for
instance, who risk their lives to go to school, to learn to read. not just my part of the world but the african continent and other countries have been through it. some of them still undergoing the same negative experience. afghanistan, pakistan, africa, the somalia, in which to go to school, to handle a book, becomes a life and death event. right now in modern nigeria, there are students, school pupils, not just students in institutions. i'm talking about school children, have been waylaid, their hands tied behind their backs, their throats slit, for daring to go to school.
you saw the image of malala, she has become the world symbol of this contest going on between barbarism, between darkness and light. which cuts across all stages, all ages. and when i came in then to exchange -- this lady and myself exchanged our experiences as children going to school without fear, enjoying the very -- he smell of books, even those we couldn't read, just being among the instruments of education, of mind expansion, just made me furious all over again. when a few decades ago, egyptian novelless and nobel laureate was
stand in the neck, i thought that could not happen in my country. well-it's been happening fast and furious. in fact before i left nigeria, after listening to malala addressing the united nations, a sid to a few friends of mine, you must get a recording of that speech, that girl. said this is a watershed in communication between youth, between children. must get a tape of that. distribute it among schools, so the school children here know they're not alone, and they're undergoing which i have -- what did the rebels, quote-unquote, -- what did they do? not internal ones, in mali. i'm talking about the real
invaders. what do they do when they arrive in mali, the first thing? they descended on the libraries. first it was the monuments. all artistic works, all works of creativity. all activities, music, et cetera, et cetera. the most symbolic and the most effective was their descent on century-old manuscript to begin the work of destruction. of course the somalians themselves fought back. the larger portion, very, very vast portion of these books, these manuscripts, some of them older than william shakes spear were saved, and in fact the process of restoration of -- restoration and creating permanent spaces for these libraries, mostly kept families down generations. but the fact that a force can be
so blind so cruel, and so focused as to make a bee-line for the precipitous of human intelligence and imagination that recognize in books. this is something which has always baffled me. so, the quotation which my friend skip made this evening when i said, books always talk terror -- i was thinking of dictators in terms of individual monsters, and the kind of state operators which they weave around them, but they're actually humanity dedicated to extinguishing the most illuminating human product belongs strictly in the field of psychiatry because i think they're sick. they're sick, and they should be
fought, or else one way or the other, immobilized. [applause] >> i didn't mean to be solemn tonight. i just wanted to use anens to express my appreciation for events like this. it doesn't matter whether they're book fairs, wherever books become the commodity of exchange, exposed are the commodity, the basis of humidity, the kind of an obsession for me, if i can, i try to do that. this award, which celebrates books, brings writers together with one another, with fill assters, with scientist-historians, researchers, unearthing the treasure of humanity everywhere, is to me one of the nobless
undertakings any organization can have. but i was not -- [applause] i don't intend to be solemn. the question i get asked most of the time, that would you do -- what do you do to relax? when you're not writing or being jailed, what do you do? i said, well, ile skip. i skip well. doesn't matter. just escape into one's self, escape into space. just escape. find spaces around yourself where you can recover what is left of your sanity. one of the escape experiences i had, just a few years ago, you can see the kind of fantasy
which some of us writers engage in, activities or structurally undergo the experience of weightlessness in one of this nasa contraptions. and what i'm going to read tonight is just -- invite you to join me in one of territories of escape. it's a wonderful experience. i couldn't afford it, but i happened to belong to certain organization, and i got a letter from them one day that said, we have a ticket on one of these space -- pseudo spaceships. we'd like you to recommend somebody to use the ticket. [laughter] >> so, i sent a letter back saying, well, would a
70-year-old man, in reasonable shape, who has kept -- who is willing to even do without wine for a week -- [laughter] -- would that be acceptable? and the man wrote back and said, you're not talking about yourself, are you? i said, don't be stupid. of course i am. and i just -- the other reason i wanted to read from here, the book to which skip referred was written decades ago, so i wanted to be sure that i still write from time to time. so, this passage is unpublished. i call it a mock heroic, the astronaut, and the section here is the fragment here is just to
share with you that space of spacelessness into which writers from time to time are able to escape. then came sublimity, demurrer, volunteering her life, frame folded in a lotus pose, floated up towards the roof. she seemed all hardly human like the rest. all too brief, and was suddenly transformed in awed silence. we took turns, and as she floated to her next nirvana. in suspended animation, came close, close to that dream of space.
for i must tell you, i have known space through much else, both incongruities and affinities, to solitude, from space, even in hallucinations, not self-or drug-inducted. i levitate in sleep, rise over parked cars. not as evil knievel on his motor bike or the deadly stunt. no. i drifted through bedroom windows, through walls, down staircases, clutching bannister, in silence, so impresent track, not a sound emerged that it called for help. drifted over the edge of the world, silent, so huge and deep, made me think and dread the unthinkable, death by drowning in dry air. awake, so steeped in sleep, immobileed, seeking rescue yet
loathe to break the spell of weightlessness. lodged, pressed to earth, the forest, there is the paradox where closure is of green, here nature opens ever in ward, and the forest cul-de-sacs, poses, way-stops. one steps over thresholds into silence, hiding confidentiality. host, discrete, invisible. manlashs to milk nature for his
>> thank you, skip, and thank you to our 2013 honorees. it's a privilege and joy to be with your words. i am karen long, as skip mentioned, manager of the anisfield-wolf book awards. this evening would not be possible without the support of the foundation staff and our partners who are listed on the screen. we are grateful to all of you. to share a video tonight with families and friends, of this event, i urge you to go visit the anisfield-wolf web site, an is infield-wolf.org. the site is a vibrant repository of history and up to the mint news and art. you can find -- read a poem.
after our author's receive they're awards, please join us to cap off a stimulating evening with wine, ore do you haves, and a book sale. i have one caveat. our winners and skip gates will be autographing their works. if you want to have a book signed, please see to that first. our authors can stay only a short while. now, it is time to present our honorees with their anisfield-wolf book awards. each writer will receive a monetary stipend, and a glass sculpture in the colors of his book jacket, handcrafted by the artisans on the streets of manhattan, the creative art studio in cleveland. we hope these unique works will remind them of our city for many