Fame and Fashion

Crossword couture greets the latest lifetime achievement winner

Published February 4, 2024

Happy February, everyone! It’s hip to be square, and every crossword has 225 squares, so let’s see if we can’t set some trends as we dive right in.

Clues you can use

Tuesday, Jan. 30 (Black Crossword, constructed by Juliana Pache)

“We a BaddDDD People” poet Sanchez  = SONIA

Following up on the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement started in the 1960s with poet/playwright Amiri Baraka. In this literary movement, authors including Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez first saw national acclaim. Born in Birmingham in 1934, Sanchez’s first poetry collection “Homecoming” (1969) described the Black identity through traditional poetry styles, followed closely by her 1970 collection “We a BaddDDD People.” Sanchez has received many accolades, including an American Book Award in 1985 for the collection “Homegirls and Handgrenades.” In 2012, she was named the first Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. As she wrote in her poem “This Is Not a Small Voice”:

This is not a small voice

you hear     this is a large

voice coming out of these cities.

Thursday, Feb. 1 (New York Times, constructed by Simeon Seigel)

First Muslim Nobel Laureate (1978)  = SADAT

When Anwar Sadat became the third president of Egypt in 1970, he technically wasn’t Egypt’s president. Sadat’s predecessor Gamal Abdel Nasser had formed the United Arab Republic in 1958, which was a sovereign alliance between Egypt and Syria. Syria officially seceded in 1961, but Egypt kept the UAR name for ten more years. Sadat officially ended the UAR, restoring the country as the Arab Republic of Egypt. But his Nobel Peace Prize came from 1978’s Camp David Accords, a treaty with Israeli prime minister (and Nobel co-winner) Menachem Begin that ended 11 years of fighting since the Six Days War. Coincidentally, Sadat’s assassination in 1981 inspired the novel The Day the Leader Was Killed, which won a Nobel Prize in Literature for fellow Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz.

Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat with U.S. president Jimmy Carter at Camp David. (September 1978)

Thursday, Feb. 1 (USA Today, constructed by Chandi Deitmer)

“This is America” rapper  = CHILDISH GAMBINO

Under his given name, Donald Glover has worked on many acclaimed projects (Community, Atlanta, the 2024 Mr. and Mrs. Smith), but his alter ego has done pretty well in music too. Taking his name from an online Wu-Tang name generator, Childish Gambino released his debut album Camp in 2011, followed by Because the Internet (2013) and Awaken, My Love! (2016). In May 2018, he released “This Is America,” dropping the single and its accompanying video during a Saturday Night Live performance. The song and its message took America by storm; the video has been considered one of the greatest ever. That year he won four Grammy awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year – the first time a rap number won either of those.

Crossworld news

On the podcast Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone, the host interviewed the legendary Andrea Carla Michaels, constructor of 85 New York Times crosswords and countless others including tournament puzzles. Poundstone had the honor of telling Michaels that she’ll receive the Merl Reagle MEmoRiaL Award for lifetime achievement at the 2024 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. A high honor, and a well-deserved one!

Our other news is a fashion alert: Wrap-dress pioneer Diane von Fürstenberg has collaborated with cruciverbalist and magician David Kwong to create crossword fashion, including a dress and scarf you can buy today. If you need to show the world you came to solve like you were eating breakfast outside of Tiffany’s, now’s your chance.

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday.