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Why Baldwin Matters: A Recap of the Baldwin100 Symposium

Why Baldwin Matters: A Recap of the Baldwin100 Symposium

On April 17th 2024, the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center welcomed James Baldwin’s official biographer and close friend David Leeming to George Mason University’s campus for the Baldwin100 Symposium. The day-long event, included the lecture "Looking for Jimmy"; and a panel discussion, "Why Baldwin Matters- Friendship, Scholarship and Imagination.” It boasted over 170 cumulative attendees, bringing together a multi-city audience, Baldwin scholars, Mason students, faculty, staff, and writers who knew Baldwin personally. It provided an opportunity to better understand the life of this critically transcendent literary and historical figure, and encourage the audience to carry on his legacy of witness and love.

Nikki Giovanni delivers Cheuse's Busboys and Poets Lecture

Nikki Giovanni delivers Cheuse's Busboys and Poets Lecture

By saying, "Yes! to Life," Nikki Giovanni, now in her 80s, wows her audience. In her twenties, Nikki Giovanni was anointed it seemed, in the dialogue and friendship she shared with James Baldwin, by Jimmy himself. But he was also listening to her, to the future - for she is the standard bearer of a movement for loving oneself!

The Alan Cheuse International Writers Center Brings Baldwin Biographer David Leeming to Campus for Why Baldwin Matters Symposium

The Alan Cheuse International Writers Center Brings Baldwin Biographer David Leeming to Campus for Why Baldwin Matters Symposium

On April 17th, the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center will continue its centennial celebration of famed novelist, essayist, and orator James Baldwin with The Symposium: Why Baldwin Matters. The day-long event will feature lecture and conversation "Looking for Jimmy" with David Leeming, Baldwin’s official biographer and close friend, and panel discussion "Why Baldwin Matters- Friendship, Scholarship and Imagination" followed by a reception. Prof. Keith Clark, author of Black Manhood in James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines and August Wilson and distinguished professor of English and African and African American Studies, will host both events. This symposium will bring together Baldwin scholars, Mason students, and writers who knew Baldwin personally.

Exploring Identity, Connection & Hospitality in Madagascar

Exploring Identity, Connection & Hospitality in Madagascar

I traveled to Madagascar in the Summer of 2023 to meet a small community that converted to Judaism in 2016. Not well known to the broader international Jewish community, I had heard about them through word of mouth and a few videos and articles here and there online. It is possible to access practical information about this group, such as how they learned about Judaism and who converted them, but not much else is available. Converting to Judaism is often a difficult and prolonged process because according to Jewish belief, one does not need to be “part of the tribe” in order to be a good person or achieve salvation, so conversion is generally discouraged unless one feels deeply compelled. As an extrovert, I wanted to meet the individuals who spent years studying as a community to assume this new identity—one that I share with them. I was curious about the possibility of connection in an unlikely place. As a poet, I wanted to visit Madagascar to experience a new world, meet new people, and learn a new terrain. Both of these pieces of myself and this experience were to ultimately contribute to my broader work on identity and its connection to land, to books, and to the stories and histories we tell.

What Start Bad a Morning' May End Good Come Evening

What Start Bad a Morning' May End Good Come Evening

Klara Kalu writes "Navigating through landscapes scarred by strife, I question whether silence can ever truly be an option for those whose words hold the power to illuminate silenced histories. As a Nigerian writer, I think a lot about how to tackle writing about my home, my language and my experiences for a global audience, the line between authorial obligation and creative autonomy, and beckoning readers into a realm where storytelling becomes not only a craft but a conduit for societal reckoning. "

Memory & Identity: Carol Mitchell's What Start Bad a Mornin'

Memory & Identity: Carol Mitchell's What Start Bad a Mornin'

In this conversation between Klara Kalu and Cheuse Fellow, Carol Mitchell, Mitchell talks about her craft, and her debut novel, 'What Start Bad a Mornin'. Mitchell teaches at George Mason University and Klara Kalu is in her first year MFA as a fiction writer.

MFA Alum Champaneri Receives $25K NEA Fellowship

MFA Alum Champaneri Receives $25K NEA Fellowship

Priyanka Champaneri (BA '05, MFA '10) was named one of 35 recipients of a 2024 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. Creative Writing Fellowships of $25,000 are awarded in alternating years in prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry, giving recipients the time and space to create, revise, conduct research, and connect with readers.

Something Completely Fabulous

Something Completely Fabulous

"As I say, it is perhaps easier to love America passionately, when you look at it through the wrong end of the telescope, across all the Atlantic water...than when you are right there. When you are actually in America, America hurts," says Rabih Alameddine, in his fabulous chats with Kat Colvert, 2021 Cheuse Fellow.