Pen America Awards
As I walked into the awards there was a man ahead of me and I knew that he was a writer. He had a certain walk as though he lived inside his head, as though doors would open for him, his face held big ideas. He turned out to be the winner of the lifetime achievement award for sports writing, William Nack and when he got up to speak, you could feel that he loves the kind of writing he does, the game, the horses. He’s ridden horses, he knows horses, but he’s also spent a lot of time with his fingers on the keys.
High points of the evening: When Suzan-Lori Parks spoke and when the actors did part of her play Topdog/Underdog. She loves theatre and she holds court like she’s making worlds all the time. She famously said, “Difficulty creates the opportunity for self reflection and compassion,” a phrase I like to repeat to myself.
Aasif Mandvi as MC was fantastic; he thrums along with a joy in being present, and hearing him made me sure our fight back will succeed. I was excited that Safiya Sinclair’s Cannibal was listed for the PEN Open Book Award. She is reading on April 25th at the Red Hen Press Annenberg event. Latina winners included Natalie Scenters-Zapico and Angela Morales; I was very excited to hear about their books.
When Colson Whitehead spoke, I was thrilled. I love his book, the threads of Invisible Man, the story which looks forward and backward and leads us to the present. When I stood outside afterward, Colson Whitehead walked out. I nodded at him, smiled. Other people surrounded him right away.
A quiet mist was falling in the street, and I remember being here in New York with Eva Saulitis and the way her laughter rang through the streets, the way she moved down the street with a buoyancy and grace. Eva, I miss you.
I went to the awards for Eva Saulitis, finalist for the Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the art of the essay. Eva, we celebrate you.