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Ishmael Reed wrote this article in today's Wall Street Journal Much of the article deals with the importance of the American Book Awards (ABA) in contrast to the National Book Awards (NBA). Reed describes the American Book Awards as more inclusive. The early days of the 34-year-old award as follows: "We held our first awards ceremony at The West Side Community Center through the arrangement of poet and Miles Davis biographer Quincy Troupe. Among that first group of winners, in nineteen eighty, was the late poet Jayne Cortez. Joseph Papp, director of the Public Theater, sponsored the second annual awards.The event was hosted by Troupe. Among the presenters were Donald Barthelme and Toni Morrison, a future ABA winner(1988). Among those in the audience was former New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka,who would also receive an award from us in 1984. Famed South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, and the late hoofer, Howard “Sandman” Sims were among those who provided the entertainment." That sounds great. But the ABA current winners does not seem to reflect the same level of inclusiveness. In fact, one might argue with the NBA having Toni Morrison present Maya Angelou with an award and giving James McBride top honors in the fiction category that there may have even been a reversal in terms of inclusiveness -- at least as far as Black folks are concerned. In either case it is not clear to me at either affair serves the Black community significantly on any level. I'm not blaming the organizers of either event. The issue is complex. The American Book Awards were be held as part of the Miami Book Fair International (an event I would love to attend one day). The 2013 American Book Award Winners: Will Alexander, Singing In Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose, Texts, Interviews, and a Lecture, Essay Press Philip P. Choy, San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide To Its History & Architecture, City Lights Amanda Coplin, The Orchardist, Harper Collins Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was An Aztec, Copper Canyon Press Louise Erdrich, The Round House, Harper Collins Alan Gilbert, Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence, University of Chicago Judy Grahn, A Simple Revolution: The Making of an Activist Poet, Aunt Lute Books Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave: A Memoir, W.W. Norton & Co. Demetria Martinez, The Block Captain’s Daughter, University of Oklahoma Press Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Blood Songs, The Ecstatic Exchange D. G. Nanouk Okpik, Corpse Whale, University of Arizona Press Seth Rosenfeld, Subversives: The FBI’s War On Student Radical and Reagan’s Rise to Power, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux Christopher B. Teuton, Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liar’s Club, University of North Carolina Lew Welch, Ring of Bone: Collected Poems, City Lights Lifetime Achievement: Ivan Argüelles Greil Marcus Floyd Salas More About the American Book Awards The American Book Awards Program respects and honors excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre. There would be no requirements, restrictions, limitations, or second places. There would be no categories (i.e., no “best” novel or only one “best” of anything). The winners would not selected by any set quota for diversity (nor would “mainstream white anglo male” authors be excluded), because diversity happens naturally. Finally, there would be no losers, only winners. The only criteria would be outstanding contribution to American literature in the opinion of the judges.
Here are a just some of the recent nominees for 2011 National Book Awards. Dr. Manning Marable: http://aalbc.com/aut...ing_marable.htm Nikky Finney: http://aalbc.com/aut...kky_finney.html Yusef Komunyakaa: http://aalbc.com/authors/yusef.html Jesmyn Ward: http://aalbc.com/aut...esmyn_ward.html Carl Phillips: http://aalbc.com/aut...l_phillips.html