Poet Sonia Sanchez, the author of more than 17 internationally renowned volumes of verse, will receive the Edward MacDowell Medal at a ceremony on the MacDowell grounds on Sunday, July 10, 2022. The return of the outdoor public celebration, including introductory remarks by novelist and MacDowell Fellow Walter Mosley and picnicking on the grounds, will be the first since August of 2019.
“I had tears in my eyes as I learned about this award,” said Sanchez, who is widely considered one of the most important writers of the Black Arts Movement. “When I consider my dear friend, Sister Toni, and so many others who have been given this award, I feel so welcomed to be part of that group. It is a great honor to be this year’s awardee. MacDowell has such a great herstory and history of caring and concern for artists; it is a joy this place exists to keep the world on a path toward re-civilization, peace, and humanity.”
The author and international lecturer on Black culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace, and racial justice joins an august group of other MacDowell Medal winners such as Robert Frost (1962), Georgia O’Keeffe (1972), Leonard Bernstein (1987), Louise Bourgeois (1990), I.M. Pei (1998), Sonny Rollins (2010), Stephen Sondheim (2013), Toni Morrison (2016), Art Spiegelman (2018), Charles Gaines (2019), and Rosanne Cash (2021).
Sanchez is the author of more than 20 books of poetry, children’s literature, and plays, including We a BaddDDD People, Homegirls and Handgrenades (winner of the 1985 American Book Award), Under a Soprano Sky, Does Your House Have Lions?, Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Shake Loose My Skin, and Morning Haiku.
“Sonia Sanchez’s illustrious career spans seven decades. Her commanding oeuvre continues to elevate language’s ability to give voice to entire communities (their daily pleasures and pains) inside our shared and troubled history,” said Claudia Rankine, a MacDowell Fellow and chairman of this year’s MacDowell Medal selection panel. “A founding member of the Black Arts Movement, this poet, activist, scholar, and American treasure is, without doubt, a major figure in the landscape of American letters.”
A sponsor of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Sanchez is the winner of numerous awards, including the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. Other awards and honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the 1985 Lucretia Mott Award, the 2004 Harper Lee Award, the 2009 Robert Creeley Award, the 2018 Wallace Stevens Award, the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2021 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. In December of 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter selected Sonia Sanchez as Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate.
Sanchez’s other books include Homecoming, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Wounded in the House of a Friend, and most recently Collected Poems. In addition to being a contributing editor to Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies, she has edited the anthology We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans. BMa: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review is the first African American Journal that discusses the work of Sonia Sanchez and the Black Arts Movement.
Sanchez will be introduced to the Medal Day crowd by Mosley, who will speak to the poet’s impact on our culture before she receives the MacDowell Medal from Painter.