Christopher Paul Curtis
Born in Flint, Michigan, Christopher Paul Curtis spent his first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint's historic Fisher Body Plant #1. His job entailed hanging car doors, and it left him with an aversion to getting into and out of large automobiles-particularly big Buicks.
Curtis’ writing-and his dedication to it-has been greatly influenced by his family members. With grandfathers like Earl "Lefty" Lewis, a Negro Baseball League pitcher, and 1930s bandleader Herman E. Curtis, Sr., of Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression, it is easy to see why Christopher Paul Curtis was destined to become an entertainer.
Christopher Paul Curtis made an outstanding debut in children’s s literature with The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963. His second novel, Bud, Not Buddy, is the first book ever to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.
Anthony Grooms was born in 1955, and was raised and educated in rural Louisa County, Virginia, 120 miles south of Washington, D.C. The eldest of six siblings, he grew up in a large extended African American family that also claimed Native and European heritage.
His father, a refrigeration mechanic and his mother, a textile worker and housewife, encouraged his education. In 1967, as a preface to the forced racial integration of Virginia’s public school system, his parents enrolled Grooms in the Freedom of Choice plan that brought about limited integration of the white public schools. Though he notes that many of his attitudes about race and class in the United States were formed before 1967, the school integration experience was, nonetheless, a landmark event in his life, contributing to a perspective that is evident in many of his writings.
Later, he studied at The College of William and Mary, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Speech. His focus was playwriting, and student theater groups produced several of his plays. Next, he studied at George Mason University, where he developed a professional interest in creative writing and graduated with a Master of Fine Arts, the terminal degree for that field. It was not until after graduate school, when he moved to Georgia to teach, that he found a subject in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Grooms is the author of a collection of poems, Ice Poems (Poetry Atlanta Press, 1988) and of a collection of stories, Trouble No More (La Questa Press, 1995/ Reprint Kennesaw State University Press, 2006). His stories and poems have been published in Callaloo, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, George Washington Review, and other literary journals and anthologies. Though the subject matter of his work varies, his most notable work has focused on characters struggling with the uncertainty of the American Civil Rights Movement. His novel, Bombingham, set against the activism for and resistance against civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, was published by The Free Press imprint of Simon and Schuster in 2001 and by One World/Ballantine in October 2002.
Writing in MELUS, a critical journal of multi-ethnic literature, Professor Diptiranjan Pattanaik says that Trouble No More demonstrates “the insider’s profound knowledge of the history and struggles of African Americans, while consistently managing to circumscribe [a] breadth of understanding with a tender story-telling art.”
Reviewing Bombingham for the Washington Post, critic Jabari Asim wrote, "In its insistence that 'the world is a tumultuous place and every soul in it suffers,' this powerful, resonant novel offers no consolations. Grooms offers consolation, however, in allowing us to be present at the emergence of a brave and promising talent, fully equipped to take on the writer's task of confronting chaos and wrestling it into form."
He is a two-time recipient of the Lillian Smith Prize for Fiction, a Finalist for the Legacy Award from Hurston-Wright Foundation, and has won the Sokolov Scholarship from the Breadloaf Writing Conference, the Lamar lectureship from Wesleyan College, and an Arts Administration Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other awards. In 2006, The Georgia Center for the Book (GCB) selected Trouble No More as “the book All Georgia Reads,” its common book program. In 2010, The GCB selected Bombingham to its list of 25 books that all Georgians Should Read.
Grooms' teaching career has taken him to positions at a variety of universities in Georgia, U.S.A., including the University of Georgia, Clark Atlanta University, Emory University and Morehouse College; and to the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa. Since 1995, he has been a Professor of Creative Writing at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, Georgia. He teaches a range of writing and literature courses, but specializes in creative writing and American literature. In 2006, he was a lecturer at the University College of Southern Stockholm (Södertörns högskola) in Stockholm, Sweden, as a Fulbright Fellow. In 2010, he was a guest lecturer at Université Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco.
His recent writings are a novel set in the Jim Crow South, a narrative-in-poems about African American perspectives on Africa, and critical studies of the work of expatriate poet Allen Polite. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Pamela B. Jackson, an administrative judge and their son.
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