Black History Month: African American Poets

With Lamont Poet Gregory Pardlo’s reading less than a week away, we are dedicating this week’s blog post on African American writers to some of the previous Lamont Poets that have visited Phillips Exeter Academy.

Pulitzer-prize winning poet Tyehimba Jess visited campus this past fall as part of the Lamont Poetry Series.  His works include Olio (2016) and leadbelly  (2005).  Next winter, senior English students will have the opportunity to study Jess’s works through an author immersion course.


Lamont Poet (winter 2016) Afaa Michael Weaver’s works include Spirit Boxing (2017), City of Eternal Spring (2014), and The Government of Nature (2013).  To see what other works by Weaver are available at the library, search Biblion, our library catalog.


Another past Lamont Poet (2012) is  Natasha Trethewey, the 19th Poet Laureate for the United States (2012-2014) and a Pulitzer Prize winner (2007).  Works by Trethewey that can be found in the Library’s poetry collection include Thrall (2012), Beyond Katrina (2010), and Native Guard (2006).


Other award-winning poets who have come to campus as part of the Lamont Poetry Series, include Major Jackson (fall 2008), Yusef Komunyakaa (spring 2000), Lucille Clifton (winter 1987), and Gwendolyn Brooks (winter 1986). Their works and a wealth of others can be found in the literature section up on floor 3M.

Looking for poetry to read or listen to online?  Check out these listings of works the Poetry Foundation and Academy of American Poets has compiled in honor of Black History Month.

Black History Month: Young Adult Authors

In our second post celebrating African American authors, we are highlighting three young adult novelists whose books can be found in our fiction collection.

Photo credit: Ben Fractenberg

Jason Reynolds
Award-winning young adult author Jason Reynolds has been writing and publishing at such a rapid pace that it’s difficult to find a bio that is completely up-to-date. His most recent work Long Way Down (2017), longlisted for the National Book Award is written in narrative verse, taking place in a span of only 60 seconds. His other works have also won numerous awards, including As Brave as You (2017), winner of a NAACP Image Award, the Schneider Family Book Award, and a Coretta Scott King Honor; All American Boys (2017, co-authored with Brandon Kiely) winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award and a Coretta Scott King Honor book; Boy in the Black Suit (2016), a Coretta Scott King Honor book; and When I Was the Greatest (2015), winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award.


Photo credit: Anissa Hidouk

Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas’s New York Times best-selling debut novel The Hate U Give (2017) is a National Book Award nominee for Young People’s Literature, Morris Award finalist, and winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. Thomas’s novel follows sixteen-year-old Starr who “witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend at the hands of a police officer” (Source: HarperCollins). Thomas was one of five inaugural recipients of the Walter Deans Myers Grant given by the We Need Diverse Books organization. Her second novel, On the Come Up will be published this summer. Thomas is scheduled to speak at Assembly during the spring term.

Photo credit: author’s website

Walter Dean Myers
It is not a coincidence that the award and grants given to both Reynolds and Thomas bear the same name as Walter Dean Myers. During Myers’s long career as a young adult novelist, he wrote over one hundred books and won more awards than any author for young adults. Recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement, he was a five time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. His book  Monster (1999) was the first winner of the Printz Award. Myers served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature from 2012 to 2013, the first African American to hold this post. (Source: Walter Dean Myers).

Lamont Poet Gregory Pardlo

On Wednesday February 21st, the Class of 1945 Library continues its 2017–2018 Lamont Poetry Series with a reading by award-winning poet Gregory Pardlo.

Pardlo is the author of Totem, winner of the 2007 American Poetry Review / Honickman Prize, translator of Niels Lyngsoe’s, Pencil of Rays and Spiked Mace (Bookthug, 2004), and Digest, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The Pulitzer judges cited Pardlo’s “clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.” His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, Tin House, Best American Poetry, as well as anthologies including Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. A memoir and collection of essays, Air Traffic, is forthcoming from Knopf.

Gregory Pardlo’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received further fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the New York Times, the Lotos Club Foundation and Cave Canem. In addition, Pardlo serves as an Associate Editor of Callaloo, Poetry Editor of VQR and is a facilitator of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. Currently Pardlo teaches in the Rutgers University-Camden MFA Program.

The reading will be held from 7:30-8:30 in the Assembly Hall, located on the second floor of the Academy Building on Front Street. The event is free and open to the public.


Black History Month: African American Writers

To celebrate Black History month this February, the Library is featuring the works of African American authors in a weekly blog post.  Each week we’ll highlight authors from our different collections including children’s literature, young adult fiction, adult fiction and nonfiction, and poetry.

This week we honor a few of the African American authors and illustrators from our Children’s Literature collection.

Jacqueline Woodson
Author Jacqueline Woodson is a  “four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner” (Source: Penguin Random House)  She is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Woodson writes books for all ages; her long list of works include picture books, middle grade readers, poetry, and young adult and adult fiction

Here is a selection of Woodson’s works that can be found in our Children’s Literature collection in Rockefeller Hall.

Andrea Davis Pinkney
Andrea Davis Pinkney is a publisher, editor and an award-winning author of over twenty books for children.   “Her books have been awarded multiple Coretta Scott King Book Awards, Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honor citations, four NAACP Image Award nominations, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor medal, as well as several Parenting Publication Gold Medals, and American Library Association Notable Book citations” (Source: Andrea Davis Pinkney).  Pinkney has collaborated on several books with her husband, award-winning illustrator Brian Pinkney.

Here is a selection of books by Andrea Davis Pinkney that can be found in our Children’s Collection.

Kadir Nelson
Kadir Nelson is a critically acclaimed artist and Coretta Scott King Award winning author and illustrator of children’s books.  One of Nelson’s recent collaboration includes illustrating Miles Morales: Spider-Man written by award-winning children’s and young adult author Jason Reynolds.

Below is a selection of books written or illustrated by Kadir Nelson that can be found in our Children’s Collection.


Rita Williams-Garcia
Rita Williams-Garcia is an award-winning author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers.  Each book in her three book series featuring the Gaither Sisters, was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award.  Her recent work Clayton Byrd Has Gone Underground is on the 2017 National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature.

Below are works by Williams-Garcia that be found in our Children’s Collection.


Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and award-winning author of 25 books.  Alexander has written books for all ages, including his Newbury Award winning middle-grade reader The Crossover (Source: Kwame Alexander).

Below are works by Alexander that be found in our Children’s Collection.



“Of Cages and Lions”: A New Exhibit in the Class of 1945 Library

photo credit: John Blackwell

A new exhibit on the ground floor of the library coincides with the grand opening of the new field house on Saturday, January 27. The exhibit looks back on Exeter’s history of developing athletic and fitness facilities, beginning with the very modest (and barely adequate) rooms rented in the 1870s in downtown Exeter. That situation was greatly improved by the construction of the Academy’s first gym, built around 1884. However, the growing importance of interscholastic athletics in the life of the Academy led to a need for better facilities. This need was met by the construction of the Thompson Gymnasium (1918) and Thompson Cage (1929).

The 1884 Gymnasium as viewed from Tan Lane, with Hoyt, Abbot, and the third Academy Building in the background.

The exhibit looks at the benefactor of those buildings, the colorful Colonel William Boyce Thompson (PEA 1890). He was a rough kid from Montana with an amateur zeal for sports and a respect for the ways physical exertion can mold young people’s character. The exhibit focuses chiefly on the Cage, which served Exeter from 1929 to 2016, since it was a beloved campus icon and it had to be torn down to make way for our new state-of-the-art facility. The Cage’s dirt floor, its creaky mezzanine-level wooden running track, atmospheric lighting, cathedral-like heights and seasonal netting implanted indelible memories in generations of Exonians.

“Of Cages and Lions” will be on view through March.

Audio Culture: A Sonic Travelogue to debut on WPEA


Music Librarian Drew Gatto is the host of a new radio program, Audio Culture: A Sonic Travelogue, set to debut on Thursday, January 18th from 9:00 until 10:00 pm on WPEA, 90.5 FM, the campus radio station.  The program will be broadcast in the same time slot each Thursday for the duration of the winter and spring terms.

Each week Audio Culture will feature music from a specific country or region of the world. The show will be organized around the theme of “cultural connections,” wherein all of the tracks played will reflect the relationship between a locale’s music and one or more significant aspects of its cultural life. Mr. Gatto will provide brief explanations of these connections between tracks, and playlists (including links to sound files with descriptive text) will be available on the program’s blog for those who are interested in further exploring the music featured on a particular show.  The first program will feature a tribute to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. as a supplement to the Academy-wide celebration of his birthday held on Friday, January 12th.

Mr. Gatto welcomes suggestions for future programs and hopes that you’ll join him “on the air” on Thursday nights!

Ferguson Voices: Disrupting the Frame

The Class of 1945 Library is hosting the multimedia traveling exhibit Ferguson Voices: Disrupting the Frame January 4th through January 26th. The multi-panel exhibit features text and audio from interviews with people who participated in or were affected by the 2014 Ferguson protests following the death of Michael Brown. The interviews were recorded by students in Ferguson, Missouri in May 2016 as part of the Moral Courage Project — a collaboration between PROOF: Media for Social Justice and the University of Dayton Human Rights Center.

Photographer: Mark Katzman

Ferguson Voices highlights the contributions of average people who found the courage to stand up during moments of unrest. The stories and images captured in Ferguson Voices are a testament not only to the systemic discrimination that the Ferguson protests laid bare, but also to the power of transformative action taken to foster community, accountability and justice.

Exhibit visitors can use their own mobile devices to listen to the voices of the subjects featured on each panel. The interviews have also been remixed as a podcast series available on SoundCloud.

The exhibit is on display in the Class of 1945 Library’s Rockefeller Hall. It is free and open to the public during Library Hours.