I don't often toot my own horn on this blog, but tonight was quite special: I was one of 10 recipients this year of a writing award for my fiction by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, based in New York. (The New York Times wrote it up here.) The ceremony took place on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a grand hall belonging to the Council on Foreign Relations, and the extraordinary short-story writer Grace Paley read one of her autobiographical stories to conclude the awards ceremony. C. was there (and when they read out my citation, they noted that he was at the event!), as were wonderful friends Carolyn Micklem, the director of the Cave Canem Foundation, my brilliant colleague Jennifer Brody, and poet Patricia Spears Jones.
What made it even more special was that two of the other winners, Thomas Sayers Ellis and Tracy K. Smith, both amazing poets, were members with me years ago in a Black writers group based in Cambridge (and later Boston) called the Dark Room Collective. Thomas actually co-founded the Dark Room with poets Sharan Strange and Janice Lowe (whom I hadn't seen for years but then ran into several times this past summer at my New York gym, 24/7.) Additionally, among my other links to Tracy is that her first book of poems, The Body's Question, won the 2003 Cave Canem Poetry Prize; my collection was one of two finalists for the prize (I spent 3 summers in CC's workshops, becoming a graduate fellow in 2001).
Here are some photos of the event, taken by C. and I:
Carolyn, I, Tracy, Thomas
I, Carolyn, and Jennifer
Patricia and I (fellow winner Ilya Kaminsky stands in the background)
C. after the ceremony (Hi paddi!)