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PRIVACY POLICY

The Norman Mailer Center & The Norman Mailer Writer's Colony

2013 Annual Benefit Gala


The Fifth Annual Benefit Gala took place on Thursday, October 17 at the New York Public Library in New York City. The Norman Mailer Center honored Maya Angelou with the Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement, Junot Diaz with the Mailer Prize for Distinguished Writing, and Michael Hastings with the Norman Mailer Award for Emerging Journalist.

2013 Annual Benefit Gala

Thursday, October 17, 2013· 7:00 PM
New York Public Library
Fifth Avenue at E. 42nd Street
New York, New York

Mailer Lifetime Achievement
Photo by Dwight Carter

Maya Angelou

Mailer Lifetime Achievement

Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.

Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture.

As a teenager, Dr. Angelou’s love for the arts won her a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School. At 14, she dropped out to become San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor. She later finished high school, giving birth to her son, Guy, a few weeks after graduation. As a young single mother, she supported her son by working as a waitress and cook, however her passion for music, dance, performance, and poetry would soon take center stage.

In 1954 and 1955, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom.

In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. The next year, she moved to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana's School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times.

During her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. While in Ghana, she met with Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America to help him build his new Organization of African American Unity.

Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and the organization dissolved. Soon after X's assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked Dr. Angelou to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King's assassination, falling on her birthday in 1968, left her devastated.

With the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she began work on the book that would become I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Published in 1970, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to international acclaim and enormous popular success. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles.

A trailblazer in film and television, Dr. Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots (1977) and John Singleton's Poetic Justice (1993). In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante.

Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in 1993. Dr. Angelou's reading of her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" was broadcast live around the world.

Dr. Angelou has received over 30 honorary degrees and is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Dr. Angelou’s words and actions continue to stir our souls, energize our bodies, liberate our minds, and heal our hearts.

Maya Angelou Mailer Lifetime Achievement Presented by Robert Loomis
Mailer Prize for Distinguished Writing

Junot Diaz

Mailer Prize for Distinguished Writing
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Junot Diaz Mailer Prize for Distinguished Writing Presented by Samuel R. Delany
Norman Mailer Award for Emerging Journalist

Michael Hastings

Norman Mailer Award for Emerging Journalist
Michael Hastings was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and special correspondent for Buzzfeed. He started his career at Newsweek magazine in 2002, and was named the magazine’s Baghdad correspondent in 2005. In 2008, he reported on the U.S. presidential elections for Newsweek. His work appeared in GQ, Men’s Journal, The Washington Post, the L.A. Times, Slate, Salon, Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and a number of other publications. In 2011, he was awarded the George Polk Award for magazine reporting for his story in Rolling Stone, “The Runaway General.” In 2010, he was named one of Huffington Post’s Game Changers of the year. In 2009, his story “Obama’s War,” published in GQ, was selected for the Best American Political Writing 2009 anthology (Public Affairs, 2009). He is the author of I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story (Scribner, 2008) and the New York Times bestseller The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan (Blue Rider, 2012). Michael published an e-book about his experience on the 2012 campaign trail, Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama’s Final Campaign (Blue Rider, 2013). Michael died in a car accident in Los Angeles on June 18, 2013. He is survived by his wife Elise and their corgi Bobby Sneakers.
Michael Hastings Norman Mailer Award for Emerging Journalist Presented by Will Dana

The 2013 Norman Mailer Center Benefit Gala at the New York Public Library offered a unique exposure to distinguished guests from the international library, culture, business and civic communities.

The Norman Mailer Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit public charitable organization.

The 2013 Annual Benefit Gala was underwritten by: Van Cleef & Arpels 

Gala and General Inquiries: Erika Jeffers, 646.374.3939, Option 1
erika@nmcenter.org