Looking back at the 2021 Neustadt Lit Festival, featuring NSK Laureate Cynthia Leitich Smith and the announcement of the 2022 Neustadt Laureate, Senegal’s Boubacar Boris Diop.
Monica Brown served on the jury that chose the 2021 NSK Prize winner and successfully championed Cynthia Leitich Smith as her nominee. On the final day of the 2021 Neustadt Lit Fest, she delivered the following tribute.
Cynthia Leitich Smith’s keynote address for the 2021 Neustadt Festival.
“In the morning I ate more pies, chicken, / Tried watching TV, like when I was a kid. / Then mum and dad started packing that kid a food bag: / Half a bucket of potatoes, beetroot, carrots, jam – all home-grown. / And off I went,” from “[Untitled],” by Ekaterina Simonova (trans. by Robin Munby)
“Zealously I have heard how your mouth can make the world be born again, / how it names with precision what had seemed to me but the awkward stirring of some / bewildered butterfly,” from “Poem with Citation,” by Piedad Bonnett (trans. by Yvette Siegert)
“The clouds advance, the winds they swell / The people come, from sorrows they come / With the rains they come, with the winds they come / and thus, for you, they come,” from “Tik'ha Takiy | Song to the Flowers,” by Elvira Espejo Ayca
In this short story from Japan, the narrator—who is disappearing organ by organ—dissolves into a library as encompassing as the cosmos.
In a dimly lit crypt, a woman loses her way and finds her thoughts toggling between a mysterious man in the dark tunnel and a childhood friend.
Eager to emerge from isolation and encounter art and (safely) others, a writer in Florida takes in Van Gogh Alive at the Dalí Museum and finds a “strange beast” aspiring to be “a form of edutainment, geared for an impatient, digital age, accustomed to overstimulation.”
An Afghan American writer recalls her own departure from Afghanistan in 1980 and the weariness she observed on a 2015 visit back to Kabul. Now, having watched events unfold as Kabul fell again, Fowzia Karimi wonders whether the hope she observed while visiting—tenuous though it was—has since been extinguished.
Life and politics are the same on an empty plate, in a body plagued by a pandemic. But in Cuba, people are rising up and challenging the regime. Here, Cuban American poet Carlos Pintado traces the horror and the hope.
Filippo Menozzi interviews Henrietta Rose-Innes, a South African author of two short-story collections and four novels, including Nineveh and Green Lion.
Sarah Moore interviews multitalented French writer Noémi Lefebvre. “You can’t be afraid of yourself when writing, but at the same time you need to be afraid because writing reveals who you really are.” - Noémi Lefebvre
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