Essence Magazine to Host First-Annual Literary Awards
Essence magazine will host the first-annual Essence Literary Awards in New York City on Feb. 7, 2008. The awards, created to celebrate both emerging and established African-American authors, will be co-hosted by “Today” show co-anchor Hoda Kotb and Dr. Ian Smith of VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club.”
Awards finalists in nine categories—Fiction, Memoir, Inspiration, Non-fiction, Current Affairs, Photography, Children’s Books, Poetry and Storyteller of the Year—were announced yesterday. The winner of the Storyteller of the Year Award will be decided by Essence readers, who will have an opportunity to vote on Essence.com from Jan. 1-15, 2008. Finalists in that category are Eric Jerome Dickey, Lori Bryant-Woolridge, Trisha R. Thomas, L.A. Banks and Tananarive Due.
“Essence has had an extraordinary literary legacy since its first issue,” says Patrik Henry Bass, senior editor, books and arts. “Terry McMillan, Bebe Moore Campbell, Gloria Naylor and so many other authors first came to the attention of readers through Essence’s pages. At the Essence Literary Awards, we want to honor writers in their tradition, while acknowledging future generations of African-American authors.”
McMillan, known for best-selling novels-turned-movies such as “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” will be honored during the ceremony with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1974, McMillan won Essence’s first college essay contest.
The Essence Literary Awards also will kick off the magazine’s “Save Our Libraries” campaign to benefit the Countee Cullen Regional Library in Harlem, a branch of the New York City Public Library system. “[We] hope that through our ‘Save Our Libraries’ campaign, entities such as the historic Countee Cullen Branch will have the crucial resources needed to provide the services our communities so desperately need,” says Bass.