Poet, activist and educator Sonia Sanchez is this year’s recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal, a lifetime achievement honor launched in 1960 and previously awarded to Robert Frost, Toni Morrison and Stephen Sondheim, among others.
“I had tears in my eyes when I learned of this award,” Sanchez, 87, said in a statement released by MacDowell on Sunday. “When I consider my dear friend, Sister Toni (Morrison), and so many others who have received this award, I feel so welcome to be part of this group. It is a great honor to be this year’s winner. MacDowell has such a great history and a history of care and concern for artists; it is a joy that this place exists to keep the world on the path to re-civilization, peace and humanity.
MacDowell is an artists’ residence founded in 1907, with fellows over the past century including James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Louise Erdrich and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Sanchez was a prominent figure in the black arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and is known for poetry collections such as “Homegirls and Handgrenades” and “Shake Loose My Skin.”
Novelist Walter Mosley will present Sanchez with his medal July 10 at MacDowell Field in Peterborough, New Hampshire, the first in-person ceremony since 2019, the year before the pandemic.
“Sonia Sanchez’s illustrious career spans seven decades. Her towering body of work continues to elevate the ability of language to give voice to entire communities—their daily pleasures and sorrows—in our shared and troubled history,” said poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, chair of the selection jury for this year’s MacDowell Medal, in a statement.