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A blog of books, reading and world literature


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Yiyun Li wins The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award with ‘A Sheltered Woman’

(I keep saving announcements of prize winners, shortlist, long lists etc as I want to get back to writing those massive Round Up of Prizes posts of past years. Since I haven’t, then for the time being, it will be short posts for literary prizes)

(Yiyun Li, by Don Feria/Getty Images, courtesy of The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation / cc by-nc-nd)

(Yiyun Li, by Don Feria/Getty Images, courtesy of The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation / cc by-nc-nd)

Yiyun Li has won The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2015 for her story ‘A Sheltered Woman’, which was initially published in the New Yorker. She is the first woman to win the prize since its establishment in 2010.

short_story_logo_250_225The following six writers, with links to the short stories, were shortlisted for the prize:

Rebecca F John – ‘The Glove Maker’s Numbers’

Yiyun Li  – ‘A Sheltered Woman’

Elizabeth McCracken – ‘Hungry’

Paula Morris – ‘False River’

Scott O’Connor – ‘Interstellar Space’

Madeleine Thien – ‘The Wedding Cake’

The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, with a purse of £30,000, is the “world’s richest prize for a single short story in the English language open to any novelist or short story writer from around the world who is published in the UK”  (from Booktrust.org).

30,000 pounds for a single short story is just WOW!

Please visit BookTrust for more info on the prize.

Yiyun Li is always on my list of writers to read.  She is a Chinese-American writer. Her two collections of short stories, A thousand years of good prayers and Gold boy, emerald girl have both won awards. She’s also published two novels, The Vagrants and Kinder than Solitude.

Books by Yiyun Li

So, pick up one of her books if you haven’t already.

 


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From “You are in the dark, in the car…” by Claudia Rankine

(in celebration of 2015 (US) National Poetry Month)

(Photo Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/The LA Times)

(Photo Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/The LA Times)

Claudia Rankine is a Jamaican poet. She has published five collections of poetry. Her latest, Citizen: An American Lyric, is high up on my list of poetry books to buy post-haste.

Today, I feature an excerpt from Citizen. Enjoy!

from ‘You are in the dark, in the car…’

/
You are in the dark, in the car, watching the black-tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of color when there are so many great writers out there.

You think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively insulted or you have done something that communicates this is an okay conversation to be having.

Why do you feel okay saying this to me? You wish the light would turn red or a police siren would go off so you could slam on the brakes, slam into the car ahead of you, be propelled forward so quickly both your faces would suddenly be exposed to the wind.

As usual you drive straight through the moment with the expected backing off of what was previously said. It is not only that confrontation is headache producing; it is also that you have a destination that doesn’t include acting like this moment isn’t inhabitable, hasn’t happened before, and the before isn’t part of the now as the night darkens 
and the time shortens between where we are and where we are going.
/

When you arrive in your driveway and turn off the car, you remain behind the wheel another ten minutes. You fear the night is being locked in and coded on a cellular level and want time to function as a power wash. Sitting there staring at the closed garage door you are reminded that a friend once told you there exists a medical term — John Henryism — for people exposed to stresses stemming from racism. They achieve themselves to death trying to dodge the build up of erasure. Sherman James, the researcher who came up with the term, claimed the physiological costs were high. You hope by sitting in 
silence you are bucking the trend.

 

(Source: The Poetry Foundation)


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Nana Malone and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers Will Read in Accra this Week

1. Nana Malone, the bestselling author of romance fiction, will give a book reading on April 30th in Accra.  From Nana’s site:

“Nana is the author of three series.  The Love Match Series  includes sassy contemporary romances: Game, Set, Match and  Mismatch. The In Stilettos Series includes ultra-sexy and fun multicultural romantic comedies, Sexy in Stilettos, Sultry in Stilettos and Sassy in Stilettos.  The Protectors series includes dark and sexy superhero romances, Betrayed ( A Reluctant Protector Prequel), Reluctant Protector and Forsaken Protector.”

The flyer below has details on the event.

 

Nana Malone flyer

The South African poet Phillippa Yaa de Villiers is the April’s writer for the Ghana Voices Series. She will read at 7pm on April 29th at the Goethe Institute in Accra. Ghana Voices Series is the monthly book reading event hosted Writers Project of Ghana.

You can read more about the poet  and the event at WPG’s site here.

Photo credit: Victor Dlamini

Photo credit: Victor Dlamini

Admission to all events is free.

Accra folks: I’ll see you at both events!

 


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“Some of My Worst Wounds” by Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison

(in celebration of 2015 (US) National Poetry Month)

Jamaican Lorna Goodison is one of the best contemporary Caribbean poets. She has published twelve collections of poetry, the latest of which, Oracabessa, won her a 2014 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

I’m drawn to poems in which poets answer the question, What is a poem? Among my favorites responses are these lines from Czeslaw Milosz’s “Dedication”:

What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
A connivance with official lies,
A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,
Readings for sophomore girls.

The opening line of Goodison’s “Some of My Worst Wounds” is sublime and familiar as there is a poet in the family whose wounds have produced some of the finest poetry ever. Enjoy!

Some of My Worst Wounds

Some of my worst wounds
have healed into poems.
A few well placed
stabs in the back
have released a singing
trapped between my shoulders.
A carrydown
has lent leverage
to the tongue’s rise
and betrayals sent words
hurrying home
to toe the line again.

– by Lorna Goodison

(from Selected Poems)


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“Since you” by Dionne Brand

 

(Photo credit: Jason W. Chow)

(Photo credit: Jason W. Chow)

(in celebration of 2015 (US) National Poetry Month)

I’ve been struggling to understand how it is that I only heard about Dionne Brand this year. I take pride in knowing some things but obviously not, because Brand escaped the Kinna net!  Brand, a Canadian poet/essayist/novelist was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She has published ten collection of poetry, five novels and also a number of non-fiction. Her latest books are Ossuaries (poetry) and Love Enough (novel).

 

Since You

Since you,
I passed some nights in hell,
thought of destroying myself,
then thought of destroying you.
Panicked, took an iron bird
on one dragon cloud,
and flew from summer to summer,
till tiring we landed
where demons shadows eat away at my sleep.

Since you,
I walked mile and miles with a close friend,
listened for hours to street cars passing by,
talked rivers and rivers to find myself,
climbed twenty hills to take one breath.

Since you,
I bought a painting,
wrote a verse,
devoured many books,
hung out with friends,
lived a whole year,
never once discovering
that you weren’t there.

– by Dionne Brand

 


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“Dust to Dust” by Tsitsi Jaji

(Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo)

(Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo)

(in celebration of 2015 (US) National Poetry Month)

I’m back on track with a new-to-me-poet.

Tsitsi Jaji was born in Zimbabwe. Her chapbook Carnival is included in the 2014 box-set Seven New Generation Africa Poets, published by the African Poetry Book Fund.

 

DUST TO DUST

There are women left who have no rage in their wrists
As they slice greens or skin tomatoes towards mealtime.
Their husbands are at the beer-gardens with
Family money – what would amount to a bag of beans
Or soap bars.

There are women who keep both lips quietly touching,
Even as they gesture a fly from their brow, and
Swallow the mucus of a chilled afternoon.
They remember vaguely when love began
And the commonplace was not where they were going.

A woman is born knowing how it happens,
Her heart turning to dust as fine as cinnamon.
It has to do with disease, redder lips,
City restaurants, the cost of deodorant.

Indeed, it so happens that their men are condemned
To spend the rest of their lives staggering home
To fuck a corpse who smells of kitchen duty
And an unwillingness to preen for a wanderer.
These women wear long, brown dresses.
They rarely hurry across busy intersections,
They move as if, inside them, they carry a heavy mound.

– by Tsitsi Jaji

(© 2003, Tsitsi Jaji,  From: Bitter Oleander, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2003
Source: Poetry Web International


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“here rests” by Lucille Clifton

Mercy by Lucille CliftonI have no self-control. I’m supposed to be Searching for the New but I’ve resorted to my old ways, reveling in the poems of my personal canon of poets. I like the idea of a personal canon of books, especially when a large section of the more known literary canon (read here as the Western canon), while good books, don’t speak to me nor of my experiences; that canon doesn’t echo my world.

Lucille Clifton’s poems are canon.

Today’s #NationalPoetryMonth poem is Clifton’s “here rest” from her collection titled Mercy. An exquisite poem–the certainty of a Josephine’s “when you poem this/and you will”, the blessing in the last stanza; enjoy!

(This is what once Clifton said about her sister “In a Talk with Lucille Clifton” over at The Liberator Magazine:

“Another poem is about my sister — I had a sister who was a prostitute. And she was wonderful, and look, I wasn’t the only sister who has a sister who was a prostitute, I am the one who talks about it”. The interview is worth reading).

 here rests

my sister Josephine
born july in ’29
and dead these 15 years
who carried a book
on every stroll.

when daddy was dying
she left the streets
and moved back home
to tend him.

her pimp came too
her Diamond Dick
and they would take turns
reading

a bible aloud through the house.
when you poem this
and you will   she would say
remember the Book of Job.

happy birthday and hope
to you Josephine
one of the easts
most wanted.

may heaven be filled
with literate men
may they bed you
with respect.

– by Lucile Clifton

(Source: Poetry Foundation)

 

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