Paul Monette

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"The struggle for true openness and intimacy is a lifelong struggle for all of us, gay and straight alike," wrote Paul Monette in Last Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise. In 1992, three years before his death, Monette won the National Book Award in nonfiction for Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, an autobiography detailing his early life and his struggles with his sexuality. Authors David Groff and Carol Muske-Dukes speak about Monette's literary and cultural legacy in this clip from Open Road Media.

Daniel Borzutzky

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Daniel Borzutzky, who won the 2016 National Book Award in poetry for The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016), reads poems from the collection at a reading for the finalists hosted by the New School. Borzutzky’s forthcoming poetry collection, Lake Michigan (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), is a series of nineteen lyric poems.

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Ursula K. Le Guin

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“We will need writers who can remember freedom.” In this video, Ursula K. Le Guin accepts the National Book Foundation’s 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Le Guin’s essay collection, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), is featured in Page One in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Solmaz Sharif

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“Let it matter what we call a thing. / Let it be the exquisite face for at least 16 seconds. / Let me LOOK at you. / Let me look at you in a light that takes years to get here.” Listen to Solmaz Sharif read the titular poem from her debut poetry collection, Look (Graywolf Press, 2016), which is longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award in Poetry. Sharif is featured in Page One in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Jesmyn Ward

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“When you see yourself reflected in literature, it enlarges your ideas of what is possible for you.” MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Jesmyn Ward takes PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown on a tour of her hometown in Mississippi and shares the parts of her life and community that inspire her writing. Ward is the winner of the 2017 National Book Award in fiction for Sing, Unbured, Sing (Scribner, 2017).

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Forty-Three

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Erika L. Sánchez reads her poem “Forty-Three,” which reflects on the 2014 abduction of forty-three students in Guerrero, Mexico, as Ashley Rockwood interprets the poem through dance for this video produced in partnership with Chicago magazine. The poem is from Sánchez’s debut collection, Lessons on Expulsion (Graywolf Press, 2017), and her debut novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2017), is a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award in young people’s literature.

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Dark at the Crossing

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“I think that’s one of the great things that fiction has the power to do: it allows you to create a character, a character you might find despicable or with whom you might not agree, but then give them the power to basically make their case as though they were making it before God.” Elliot Ackerman talks to PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown about his second novel, Dark at the Crossing (Knopf, 2017), which is a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award in fiction.

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Panopticon

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“The keeper put me in the cage      with the monkeys / Because I asked to be / Put in the cage with the monkeys.” Shane McCrae, whose most recent collection, In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), is longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in poetry, reads his poem “Panopticon” for the River Styx at the Tavern reading series.

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