A Note from Mel

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Larry Neal Writers’ Awards May 1, 2009

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Larry Neal

Larry Neal



I was excited to learn I’m a Finalist for the Adult Poetry category of the Larry Neal Writers’ Awards. Maybe, I’ll see you there in the company of some talented D.C. youth, teenage and adult creative writers!
(P.S. Free Admission is always a plus!)

Larry Neal Writers’ Awards

Since 1981, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has recognized and celebrated the literary accomplishments of District of Columbia resident writers through the Larry Neal Writers’ Competition. Cash awards and prizes are given to adults aged 19 and up for artistic excellence in writing in three categories:  poetry, short story and dramatic writing, and to youth (ages 8-12) and teens (ages 13-18) in three categories: poetry, short story and essay. 


The Larry Neal Writers’ Awards Ceremony for 2009 occurs on Friday, May 8, 2009 at 6 pm:

The Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center – Theatre J
 1529 16th St Nw, Washington, DC 20036In 1965, Neal founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater and School with Amiri Baraka (also known as LeRoi Jones) in Harlem.


His powerful works of poetry include Hoodoo Hollerin’ BeBop Ghosts and Black Boogaloo. In 1969, Neal and Baraka coedited Black Fire, the definitive anthology of the 1960s black cultural experience.
In addition to his writings, Neal was a well-respected academic. He was a professor at Yale and Wesleyan universities, received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1971, and held a chair in Humanities at Howard University. He also served as the Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities from 1976 to 1979.


At his untimely death in 1981, Neal had just finished an introduction to a three-volume series on Zora Neale Hurston’s works, was collaborating on a jazz series for WGBH-TV in Boston, and had nearly completed a book on the rise of black consciousness during the 1960s.


The Larry Neal Writers’ Award program commemorates his artistic legacy and vision of cultural understanding. The program’s activities are among the most anticipated of the events sponsored by the Commission.


Larry Neal Biography
Born in Georgia in 1937, Neal moved to Philadelphia as a child. He gained an appreciation for all aspects of black life, such as folk tales, slang, and street chants, and used them as sources of artistic expression. He enrolled in courses at Drexel University and continued graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1963, Neal moved to New York as arts editor of The Liberator.