Novelist who inspired 'Precious' at Clark

sapphireClark University’s Office of Intercultural Affairs will present Sapphire, poet and author of the 1996 novel “Push” (which may be better known by its film adaptation title "Precious"), as part of their Black History month celebration at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22, in Daniels Theater, Atwood Hall on Downing Street, Worcester.

Read an article covering Sapphire's Feb. 22 talk at Clark: "Creator of 'Precious' talks of racism, reality" in the Worcester T&G.

“Push,” Sapphire’s first novel, received a number of awards and accolades, including the Book-of-the-Month Club Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s First Novelist Award, and in Great Britain, the Mind Book of the Year Award. “Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire,” a 2009 American drama film directed by Lee Daniels, is a tragically hopeful story of a 16-year-old girl battling obesity, illiteracy and the damages of sexual violence. The film's mainly female cast features Gabourey Sidibe as the title character, with Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz in supporting roles. The film recently won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at Sundance (2009). It is the only film ever to win both the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals Audience Awards. Sapphire has taught literature, fiction and poetry workshops at SUNY Purchase, Trinity College, and the Writer’s Voice in New York City. She has taught graduate writing workshops in MFA programs at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Brooklyn College, and at the New School University. In 1990 she received an Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award from Joyce Dinkins, then First Lady of New York City, for her work with literacy students in Harlem and the Bronx. Sapphire’s poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in The Black Scholar, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker. The presentation is free for Clark students, $3 for Worcester Consortium students, and $5 for the general public. The event is sponsored by Speaker's Forum, Programming Cosponsorship Fund (PCF); Black Student Union; Dean of Students; Office of Intercultural Affairs; Student Council Special Budget; Residential Life and Housing; Clark Anti-Violence Education Program (CAVE); International Development, Community & Environment; the Hiatt Center for Urban Education; the Center for Community Engagement and Volunteering; the Student Advisory Board; the Pub Entertainment Committee; Clark University Film Society (CUFS); Student Leadership and Programming; OPEN; TOPICS; CUPS; and Clark University departments of History, Government and International Relations, Sociology, Urban Development and Social Change, and Communication and Culture. The Black Student Union will sponsor a FREE, public screening of “Precious” at Cinema 320 (Jefferson Hall, Room 320) at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21. For more information, call 508-793-7762.