Cleveland is quietly one of the most literary cities in the country.
Our region has vibrant independent bookstores, two of the top-rated library systems in the country, and a legacy of world-class authors that stretches from Toni Morrison to Langston Hughes, Mary Oliver to Rita Dove, Harvey Pekar to Dan Chaon.
This year, the literary community is coming together to make some noise. More than 50 free events for book lovers crowd the calendar from September 6-18, the work of three major partner organizations that crafted the 2022 Cleveland Book Week.
Since March 2021, staff of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
(AWBA), presented by the Cleveland Foundation, the Great Lakes African American Writers Conference
(GLAAWC pronounced “glossy”), and Literary Cleveland
have worked to build the city’s most collaborative literary celebration yet.
The goal is to elevate Cleveland as a national center of literary excellence, lift brilliant writers that other places overlook and sharpen our local literary conversations. Staff at the National Endowment for the Arts liked the idea enough to grant money toward this year's celebration.
Literary Cleveland will kick off Book Week with the eighth annual Inkubator Writing Conference, the largest free workshop in the nation. It features virtual events September 6-8 and free in-person programs at the downtown Cleveland Public Library on September 9-10 with keynote speaker Jami Attenberg.
For 87 years, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards have honored groundbreaking books that advance our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. This year, Anisfield-Wolf events run September 14-16, with the awards ceremony to be held Thursday, September 15 at the Maltz Performing Arts Center. The 2022 AWBA winners coming to Cleveland are Percival Everett for “The Trees” (Fiction), Donika Kelly for “The Renunciations” (Poetry), George Makari for “Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia” (Nonfiction), Tiya Miles for “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake” (Nonfiction), and Lifetime Achievement winner Ishmael Reed.
Book Week programs will culminate in the Great Lakes African American Writers Conference on September 17 at the downtown Cleveland Public Library featuring the prolific award-winning author Walter Mosley as the Langston Hughes Literary Keynote. Additionally, a Sunday Brunch fundraiser on September 18 will feature two-time James Beard Award-winning culinary author Toni Tipton-Martin, who once edited the Plain Dealer food section, and local celebrity chef Eric Wells.
Partners at all three organizations hope these combined efforts enhance and amplify the literary appetite of Cleveland. Some of the best authors in English will connect with local emerging talent to develop the next great voices, and collaborative events will inspire new projects and partnerships.
To celebrate Cleveland Book Week, Scene is featuring poetry by local writers alongside Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
winners, as well as an interview with Electric Literature Editor in Chief Denne Michele Norris
, who is a 2022 GLAAWC speaker, Cleveland native, and the highest-ranking Black trans woman in publishing.
See the full schedule of book week events at www.anisfield-wolf.org