Arts and letters academy votes in Everett, Coppola, others
NEW YORK (AP) — The honors keep coming in for fiction writer-poet Percival Everett.
On Tuesday, Everett was one of 19 new members announced for induction this spring into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the honor society that has included luminaries from Mark Twain to Toni Morrison over the past 120 years.
Everett, the prolific author of the novels “The Trees,” “So Much Blue” and dozens of other works, has been a Pulitzer Prize and Booker Prize finalist in the past two years, is currently a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle fiction award for his novel “Dr. No” and was last year’s recipient of a lifetime achievement prize from the critics circle.
He will join a wide range of writers, musicians, architects, performing artists and visual artists in the academy, along with honorary inductees Francis Ford Coppola and Frances McDormand, and two foreign honorary artists: Chilean poet Cecilia Vicuña and Andrey Kurkov, the Ukrainian novelist and prominent critic of the Russian invasion.
The academy was formed in 1898 and currently has 300 core members. New inductees are voted in by current members and remain in the academy for life. They also help out hand out dozens of awards, with prize money for 2023 expected to top $1 million: Everett himself received a literature prize from the academy in 2003.
“It’s cliche to say that being elected to the Academy is an honor, but that is exactly what it is,” Everett told The Associated Press recently. “I’m excited to be a member and to perhaps influence, if not the direction, then the health of American letters.”
The academy on Tuesday announced it had also voted in sculptors Huma Bhabha and Arlene Shechet and visual artist Shirin Neshat.
Besides Everett, new literary members are the fiction writer and translator Lore Segal, the critic and memoir writer Vivian Gornick, essayist and novelist Phillip Lopate and fiction writer Yiyun Li.
Dancer-choreographer Yvonne Rainer and the playwright-actor Anna Deavere Smith also were elected, with Smith saying she was honored to join so many people she admired “in this fine community of arts and letters.”
Others joining the academy include the architects Merrill Elam, Michael Maltzan and Maurice Cox, the design director of the National Endowment of the Arts under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Musicians voted in include Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds, experimental composer-performer Pamela Z and jazz orchestra leader Maria Schneider, along with trumpeter-composer Wadada Leo Smith, composer-conductor-critic Carman Moore and composer-educator Adolphus Hailstork.