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Posts from the ‘Pulitzer’ Category


#Poetry Pulitzer Prize 2017 Olio

  • Author: Tyehimba Jess
  • Title: Olio
  • Published: 2016
  • Genre: poetry …and then some!
  • Cover: pictogram.
  • ..if you hold the book at a distance OLIO
  • …you will see a face!
  • OLIO:  same if you read it left–>right or  left<– right!
  • Title:  OLIO =  middle part of a minstrel show.
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan



  1. WINNER 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
  2. WINNER 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry
  3. WINNER 2017 Book Award from the Society of Midland Authors for Poetry
  4. 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for poetry
  5. 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist
  6. 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award finalist
  7. Named a Top Poetry Book of 2016 by Library Journal



  1. Olio centers on African-American artists and creators,
  2. an interest spawned from Jess’ curiosity about the origin of black music.
  3. Tyehimba Jess presents the
  4. …sweat and story behind America’s blues
  5. work songs and church hymns.
  6. Part fact, part fiction.
  7. He weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine
  8. …the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers
  9. directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I.


Strong point:

  1. Tyehimba Jess has introduced me to a
  2. new type of poem: sonnet
  3. where 2 voices are counterpoints and syncopated.
  4. Two speakers are made to finsh each other’s sentences
  5. composing the same thought but
  6. …from a different position.
  7. Poem: General Bethune  v. W.C. Handy
  8. The exploitive master/ manager of Blind Tom (austic pianist)
  9. and  a great blues composer have a eery conversaton! (pg 22)



  1. Jess has created a poetry book as a  ‘world’
  2. and not a private place in his mind.
  3. He intertwines blues, history, letters, legend
  4. persona poems, prose poems, interviews
  5. song, culture …and illustrations.
  6. I learned about  Blind Tom Wiggens (austic pianist)
  7. Edmonia Lewis (sculptor), Fisk Jubilee Singers
  8. Scott Joplin, John Boone….and many more.
  9. The book is an experience
  10. …that is the only way I can
  11. describe it!
  12. PS: Tyehimba Jess’s personal persona
  13. …is Julius Monroe Trotter in the book.
  14. He interviews some acquaintances of Scott Joplin.
  15. #JustSaying


  1. This is not a book where you tie a poem to a chair
  2. with a rope and attempt to beat out its meaning.
  3. You have to take your time….read a few poems a
  4. day then close the book.
  5. I tried to discover the  starting subject and
  6. …then the discovered subject in a poem.
  7. There is always a door to be opened the
  8. will lead you down another path.
  9. I’ve reviewed one poem to show you what I mean.
  10. #MustRead….really, amazing!


Blind Tom Plays for Confederate Troops, 1863   (pg 15)

  1. Shape is the familiar left margin.
  2. Line breaks are  punctuation.
  3. 1 stanza: a continuous musical flow in the poem.
  4. Starting subject:
  5. Tom is a blind piano player stomping his feet with the music
  6. …for the REB’s ..the Confederate soldier sing-a-long.
  7. Discovered subject:
  8. introduced by a  “door in the poem”….
  9. the word freedom (line 8/14 lines).
  10. The second half of the poem
  11. …gives us  the stark message that:
  12. Tom still is somebody’s property
  13. …his Dixie sounds more like a work song.
  14. “…ringing with slaver’s song at master’s bidding.”


Last thoughts:

  1. This a short poetry review with the sole goal of
  2. ..describing a book of contemporary poetry.
  3. I’ve  stopped with the  compulsion to say everything
  4. …just want to give you
  5. …a few observations with the hope
  6. …that you will read more
  7. #Poetry !

#Classic Death of a Salesman



  1. Before we begin the book….we know how it will end!
  2. The story revolves around
  3. …Willy Loman, (…notice name “low man”).
  4. He is a 63 yr salesman, who cannot understand
  5. …how he failed and cannot live the American Dream.
  6. Central: the hardships that come with trying
  7. …to meet social expectations in America.
  8. Irony: We never learn in the play what Willy sells!


Characters:  major

  1. Willy Loman – insecure, self-deluded traveling salesman.
  2. He mirrors an everyday “character” of Post WWII American society
  3. inflexible to advice he just shuts people out and refuses to listen
  4. Tragic flaw: ridiculous idea of being “well-liked” as a way to succeed.


  1. Linda Loman – quintessential 50s housewife, devoted doormat
  2. blinded by loyality.
  3. Biff is telling her the truth but she is not listening.


  1. Hap Loman: son who represents Willy’s sense of importance,
  2. ambition, servitude to expectations.
  3. He lived in Biff’s shadow all of his life, ignored.


  1. Biff Loman: son who represents Willy’s vulnerable, poetic, tragic side.
  2. He has had twenty to thirty jobs,
  3. all of them fail to improve his station in life.
  4. But Biff is the only character in the play
  5. who changes from ignorance to knowledge.


Theme:   betrayal

  1. Generations of Loman men betray their family.
  2. They place their desires above their families well-being.
  3. Grandfather: suddenly leaves  when Willy was 4  yr.
  4. Father:  suddenly leaves to find success in Alaska.
  5. Willy: betrays family (wife) with s sordid affair.
  6. Sons: Biff and Hap,  abandon father
  7. in restaurant to trail after 2 women.


Theme: suicide as a means

  1. Willy is determined to eliminate himself in
  2. what has turned out to be an unfulfilling life.
  3. The payment of his insurance policy will help family survive.
  4. Suicide is a method for something else.
  5. Irony: Willy Loman is worth more dead
  6. ….than alive.



  1. Structure: 2 acts + Requiem  (118 pg)
  2. Reading time:  2,5 hours 
  3. The acts are divided into conversations
  4. about the past and present.
  5. Timeline: an evening and the following day.
  6. The he action is interrupted by
  7. flashbacks or memories of a
  8. period approximately 17 years earlier.
  9. late 1920s – early 1930s (The Depression)


Staging the past and present:

  1. Shakespeare never tried to show the past as the present.
  2. His characters describe a past event in dialogue.
  3. Miller uses the forestage to illustrate
  4. Willy’s imaginings the of past.
  5. Flashbacks track Willy’s mental decline.


  1. Miller was modern because of his staging (forestage)
  2. and he believed a tragic downfall can  happen
  3. to a common man, as Willy Loman.
  4. Aristotle stated a tragic hero is always
  5. a very important person.



  1. This is one performance I wish I had seen March 2012
  2. Death of a Salesman (link play review NYT, 2012)
  3. with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  4. It is a novel in a nutshell…so powerful!
  5. I’ve watched the movie (1985) starring Dustin Hoffman.
  6. To my delight I found the complete audio recording
  7. of the Broadway play (2012)  click here
  8. and listen to Hoffman’s  stunning performance!
  9. The voices mesmerized me.
  10. You could hear Willy hallucinatory….delusional.
  11. Death of a Salesman  is considered the best play
  12. …written by an American playwright.


Feedback:  comment Cleo @ClassicalCarousel (new blog!)

This play was just a complex as a novel…and only 2,5 hrs reading time!
I did not even go into the symbols in the play (rubber hose, silk stockings and a flute)…but you can discover them your self. I did notice after reading the play that Arthur Miller used music as a symbol. If I had not listened to the 2012 version on You Tube…I’d never known! You miss this symbol if you are not aware that the play begins and ends with flute music…and at other times in the play. It is a reminder to Willy that he could have chosen a free and wild life in the country like his father did. Lost opportunity…poor Willy


Last thought:  my favorite quote:

  • “Willy was a salesman.
  • He’s a man way out there in the blue
  • …riding on a smile and a shoeshine,”




#Non-fiction: Evicted: Poverty and Profit


Who is Matthew Desmond?

  1. Matthew Desmond is a sociologist and  Professor of the
  2. …Social Sciences at Harvard University.
  3. In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur  ‘Genius Grant’
  4. …because Desmond has shown  extraordinary
  5. ..originality and dedication in his creative pursuits.


What is the book about?

  1. Matthew Desmond centers on eight Milwaukee Wisconsion
  2. families faced with losing their homes.
  3. He analyzes how an increase in evictions has affected
  4. …residents of America’s poorest cities.
  5. In larger cities like Washington D.C. the wait for
  6. ….public housing was counted in decades.
  7. A mother of a young child who put her name on the list
  8. …might be a grandmother by the time her application was reviewed.
  9. How can this happen in one of the richest countries on earth?
  10. The book also give us the landlord’s point of view.
  11. Many landlords were fearful of renting to poor residents in these neighborhoods.
  12. Landlord Sherrena knew that it could be extremely profitable.



  1. Arleen: she had 2 small children  Jafaris (5) and Jori (13).
  2. They had been evicted 3 x within 4 months.
  3. Arleen tried hard to make her livings quarters….a home.
  4. She did her best.
  5. Strong point:  Desmond does not only gives the reader a glimpse into
  6. …this side of life for many people
  7. ….he also suggests solutions for the problems.
  8. Arleen’s  favorite song was : Keep Ya Head Up.
  9. After I finished the book I sat and listened to
  10. 2PAC for the first time in my life.
  11. I followed the lyrics and listened.
  12. It is the essence of this book….’Keep Ya Head Up’.
  13. If you have the time…..
  14. …listen to the audio  4 min song.
  15. You won’t forget it.
  16. Poor black men were locked up (prison)
  17. …poor black women were locked out (evicted).


Last thoughts:

  1. My general feeling about the book?
  2. It was depressing…I was shocked how many people
  3. …struggle to keep a roof above their heads.
  4. Some people spend 80% monthly income on housing.
  5. What is left?



#Poetry Pulitzer Prize 2013 Sharon Olds



Sharon Olds – poet

  1. She won Pulitzer Prize poetry 2013
  2. She Won  T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry 2012 which what is considered
  3. to be one of the world’s most important poetry awards.
  4. Her prize winning collection was Stag’s Leap.



  1. When her husband of 30 years left her for another woman,
  2. Sharon Olds wrote poems as a way of coping with the heartbreak.
  3. Mother-of-two Sharon Olds, 70, split with her husband when she was 55.
  4. Miss Olds promised her children she would not publish
  5. …anything about the divorce for 10 years afterwards.
  6. She finally unveiled the collection, entitled Stag’s Leap
  7. after the former couple’s favourite wine – 15 years later.



My thoughts:

  1. I’ve  discovered several literary reviews.
  2. …that offer me some great reading opportunities.
  3. The Sewanee Review is one one them.
  4. It is an American literary journal established in 1892.
  5. It is the oldest continuously published quarterly in the United States.
  6. It publishes original fiction and poetry, essays, reviews, and literary criticism.
  7. This morning I read Sharon’s poem To Our Miscarried One, Age Fifty Now.
  8. Having been the long awaited baby after several miscarriages
  9. …I can only imagine what my mother was enduring
  10. …that she never expressed.
  11. Sharon Olds expresses the heartbreak.
  12. If you are not a regular reader of poetry
  13. …I hope this poem will convince you to read poems.
  14. They are the heart….speaking.


To Our Miscarried One, Age Fifty Now

Sharon Olds

Fall 2018

Every twenty years, I turn
and address you, not knowing who you were
or what you were. You had been three months
in utero, when our friend came to visit
with her virus which I caught and you died—or it may be
your inviableness had been conceived with you—
you might have been, all along, going to
last fourteen weeks, though I had felt,
as we lay on the living-room floor, the couch
pushed in front of the door at the pure gold
hour at the core of your big sister’s
nap, that you had taken deep.
I kept my feet up on the couch an hour—there was a
recipe, for a boy, then:
abstain until the egg emerges, then
send the long-tailed whippersnapper, the
boy-making sperm, in, to get there
before the girls, who are slow but if they
get there early can wait. The boy
we conceived a month after you died
made, years later,
an ink X
on a cushion of that sofa, as if to declare
war on sisters and mothers, the oppressors
of the male. Hello, male, or female,
or both, or neither. Hi mystery,
hi matter, hi spirit moving through matter.
Twenty years ago, when your father
left me, I wanted to hold hands with you,
my friend in death, the dead one
I knew best—and not at all—
who had deserted this life or been driven from it,
I your garden, oasis, desert.
And I’d never laid down a stone for you,
you seemed like a byway on the path from your sister
to your brother. What was half-formed
in you, what was partial—how close I could have
felt to you if I had known what a hidden
story I still was to myself. Dear one,
I feel as if now you are my elder, having died—
though without having breathed—so much earlier than I.
By the time I saw you, you were in the water
already, the sacred toilet-water green
of your grave. Let me call you kin, lost one,
let me call you landsman.

Pulitzer Prize 1984: Ironweed


Theme:  Redemption: The ghost of Francis’ infant son tells his father that he
must perform acts (of kindness) to exorcise his demons.

Motif:  Gothic details, in recurrent images of gloomy and haunted settings, supernatural events (ghosts in cemetery), full moon (moonlight), Halloween (goblins).

Setting and timeline:  the story takes place in Albany over two days and two nights, Halloween and All Saints’ Day of 1938.

Main characters:  Francis Phelan and Helen Archer are bums, back in their birth city. She was a singer on the radio, he a major league pitcher. Francis Phelan  is resilient.  Helen Archer has traveled with and lived with Francis for nine years. She is “shapeless, windblown weed blossom of no value to anything.” (pg 127). She is not meant for survival.

Title: Ironweed refers to the main character. Francis Phelan is a survivor and hard to break. The ironweed flower is a plant known for its toughness of the stem.



  1. The presence of death appears throughout this novel.
  2. In the first chapter Kennedy cleverly uses the scene of a cemetery.
  3. Francis is digging graves for small cash.
  4. He has returned to his home town for the first time since
  5. Francis abandoned his family after
  6. …the death of his infant son Gerald.
  7. “I never stop thinking’ about him’.
  8. Kennedy portrays the human condition as tragic, but it is precisely
  9. …in confronting this situation, that Francis experiences hope.



  1. Sometimes an image is all you need
  2. …to inspire you to read this book. (see above)
  3. This is one of the better novels on
  4. …the Modern Library List Best 100 Novels 20th C.
  5. #Classic




Pulitzer Prize 2018: Locking Up Our Own


As a lawyer who started his career as a public defender in Washington D.C., Forman retains a pro-African American perspective for the entirety of the book.


His goal is an honest retelling of the struggles the black man is up against:
arrests for minor marijuana infractions, opiate crisis getting worse particularly among blacks, racial profiling and guns. “From Wyatt Earp to the Godfather…USA misleads their young people who think they can secure their manhood through the barrel of a gun.”

Strong point:

With a fact-based approach Forman effectively presents the story of the racial injustice and inequality that is unchecked in Forman’s area of Washington D.C. . The War on Drugs that started in 1970’s did more harm than good resulting in mass incarcerations of black men.

Tone:    Forman maintains a level-leaded and intellectual tone throughout the narrative.

Weak point:

The book begins slowly and the first 2 chapters (legislation drugs and guns) did not ‘grab’ my attention. But once I reached chapter 3 “1948-1978 – Rise of African American police” I was hooked.



  1. This book is a welcome addition to the
  2. …debate about racial issues in the USA.
  3. It cannot be compared to:
  4. Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy   or
  5. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America
  6. Heather Thompson and Jill Levoy shift the tone in their books from
  7. fact, despair, to excitement, back to fact.
  8. They take the reader on a roller coaster of emotions.
  9. James Forman jr. as professor of law at Yale and legal scholar
  10. .. keeps emotions subdued but enlightens the reader
  11. …with facts only a lawyer can reveal through years of experience.
  12. Forman offers solutions that should be investigated.
  13. This book is a winner!
  14. Pulitzer Prize General Non-Fiction 2018.


Last  Thoughts:

  1. Sometimes it is best to read these books ‘hot off the presses’.
  2. If I wait too long the chances are
  3. …high the book disappears on my TRB.
  4. Pulitzer has a habit of selecting great books
  5. …but I have been disappointed at times.
  6. Never overlook the longlists
  7. …there hide many potential winners.
  8. Emotion is always a ‘cincher’ and
  9. …H. Thompson’s book was filled with
  10. emotion and much more ‘shock and awe’.
  11. J. Levoy’s book was a deep personal story
  12. ….one police officer was a leading example
  13. …and proved #BlackLives do matter!
  14. This was a very good book.
  15. J. Forman jr.’s book attests to the fact
  16. …there is still much to be corrected in USA.



  1. 1975 – Struggle to pass a bill to legalize marijuana
  2. 1975 – Struggle to pass gun regulation
  3. 1948-1978 – Rise of African American police
  4. 1981-82 – Forman’s personal experiences as a young public defender
  5. 1988-92 – Crack: the worst thing to hit African Americans since slavery
  6. 1995 – Racial profiling ( stop-and search)
  7. Epilogue:  2014-16 Our reach for mercy

Blood in the Water


Impressive list:

  • Awards and Honors Blood in the Water received:
  • Pulitzer Prize in History 2017
  • Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy 2017
  • Ridenhour Book Prize 2017
  • J. Willard Hurst Award in Socio-Legal History 2017
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist 2017
  • Finalist Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts, Honorable Mention 2017
  • New York City Bar Association Award 2016
  • National Book Award Finalist 2016
  • New York Times Most Notable Books of 2016
  • Top Ten Best Books of 2016 Publishers Weekly
  • Top Ten Best Works of Non-Fiction of 2016 Kirkus Reviews
  • Top Ten Books of 2016 Newsweek




  • A New York State special prosecutor’s investigation into the 1971
  • Attica prison riot and killings (39 shot to death, including 10 hostages)
  • failed to indict any police officers or prison guards
  • despite strong evidence that they acted with homicidal intent.



  1. Heather Ann Thompson is a professor of history at the University of Michigan.
  2. She draws on interviews with former inmates,
  3. …hostages, families of victims, law enforcement, lawyers, and state officials.
  4. An important source of information was found in the
  5. archives of previously unreleased materials.
  6. Thompson’s well written reconstruction of the
  7. causes of the riot,  reaction, murder and
  8. criminal negligence by the State Police.
  9. There had been incredible lying by others
  10. tampering with evidence  by the Executive Office
  11. of the State of New York are important.
  12. She was able to review from multiple sources
  13. interviews and  the facts leading
  14. …up to the horrible, unnecessary killings
  15. by the State Police.
  16. The epilogue….is upsetting.
  17. After all the struggles in Attica the US penal system
  18. …is STILL denying inmates rights.
  19. 2009: 1 sergeant  and 3 correction officers attacked
  20. ….prisoner Williams in Attica.
  21. Result: broken collarbone – 2 broken legs and other injuries.
  22. 2015: these guards were charged with
  23. first degree gang assault  + tampering with physical evidence.
  24. Result: light plea deal…no imprisonment….. a slap on the wrist.


Last thoughts:

  1. At times…so captivating that I could not put it down.
  2. Other times… I had to put it down.
  3. I was disgusted with the behaviour of high NY state officials.
  4. The entire investigation stank of politics.
  5. Who now believes the last lines of
  6. the Pledge of Allegiance: “…freedom and justice for all “?
  7. This should be enough to convince you
  8. …this book is a #MustRead or #MustListen.


My notes:

Part III: Ch: Dreams and Nightmares:

  1. Tensions are running high, negotiations between
  2. prisoners and prision officials is ongoing…
  3. …but Gov Nelson Rockefeller….is not pleased, not at all.
  4. Gov Nelson Rockefeller would later order force to be used
  5. …to put the uprising….down.


Part IV: Ch: No Mercy

  1. State troopers quash the prision rebellion.
  2. After 8 hours of listening…I’ve reached the graphic part of the book.
  3. Listening to the descriptions is more powerful….than reading them.
  4. I have to take a break from this book….let it all sink in.


Part VII: Ch: Justice of Trial

  1. I can barely listen to the atrocities and abuse committed at Attica by the
  2. prison guards and even prison doctors
  3. after more than 100 prisoners were wounded and dying.
  4. Just awful…but more shocking is …it really happened.
  5. State officials tried to suppress information about the uprising becoming public.
  6. Still many files have yet to be disclosed.
  7. There must be very damaging information
  8. …officials want kept secret!


Part VIII: Ch: Protecting the Police

  1. State troopers  were blatantly guilty of killing the hostages.
  2. They were the only ones with guns!
  3. But there was an extensive cover-up.
  4. Ironically the NY State Police were appointed to head the ‘independant’
  5. investigation of criminal acts by prisoners.
  6. #Please tell me this is fiction!
  7. It is not.

Part IX: Ch:   Elizabeth M. Fink (1945-2015)

  1. Elizabeth M. Fink Fink graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1973.
  2. Just a month after she had been admitted to the bar,
  3. …she went to work for the Attica Brothers Legal Defense Committee.
  4. She helped draft a civil suit against the New York state authorities.
  5. The case crawled through the courts for more than 27 years.
  6. Fink stuck with it.
  7. In 2000, as the lead counsel in the deferral civil rights case,
  8. she won an $8 million settlement from the state, plus $4 million in legal fees.
  9. #Justice….at last….closure.
  10. Trivia: Liz Fink helped  Heather Thompson with her research.
  11. Unfortunately….Elizabeth Fink died 1 year before publication.