Sonia Sanchez

US poet and academic Sonia Sanchez is the recipient of this year’s Edwin MacDowell Medal.

The Edward MacDowell Medal is given to one person annually who has made an outstanding contribution to American culture and the arts since 1960. The award is named for composer Edward MacDowell, who, with pianist Marian MacDowell, his wife, founded the MacDowell artist residency in 1907. Each year, MacDowell welcomes more than 300 architects, composers, filmmakers, interdisciplinary artists, theatre artists, visual artists, and writers from across the United States and around the globe. Some of the previous winners of the award have been Robert Frost, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, John Updike, and Stephen Sondheim.

The winner for this year’s award is the poet, writer, and academic Sonia Sanchez. She is a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement and has written over a dozen books of poetry, as well as short stories, critical essays, plays, and children’s books.

“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,” poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, chair of this year’s MacDowell Medal selection panel, said in a statement.

Sanchez said, “I had tears in my eyes as I learned about this award. When I consider my dear friend, Sister Toni (Morrison), 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.”

Novelist Walter Mosley will present Sanchez her medal on July 10 on the MacDowell grounds in Peterborough, New Hampshire.