Poets & Writers to Honor Oprah Winfrey, Michael Chabon, Amanda Gorman

New York, NY—December 13, 2019—Oprah Winfrey will accept a Leadership Award at Poets & Writers’ 50th Anniversary Gala on March 16, 2020, in New York City. Novelist Susan Isaacs, chairman of Poets & Writers’ Board of Directors, noted: “We are thrilled to recognize Ms. Winfrey on this splendid occasion. Perhaps more than any other individual, Oprah has elevated the position of books in our culture, lifting up writers and helping countless readers discover great books.”

At the same event, the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Awards will be presented to Michael Chabon and Amanda Gorman. Isaacs, who heads the committee charged with selecting honorees, said: “Michael Chabon has not only enriched our imaginations through his remarkable books, he has also been a steadfast champion for other writers and the organizations that serve them. And at age twenty-one, Amanda Gorman has already done so much to encourage young writers that she is an inspiration to us all.”

The Leadership Award

Oprah Winfrey. (Credit: Harpo, Inc./Ruven Afanador.)


The Leadership Award will be presented to Oprah Winfrey in recognition of the immeasurable positive impact Oprah’s Book Club, in all its forms, has had and continues to have on writers and readers. Of this honor, Ms. Winfrey remarked: “Stories draw us closer together and at the same time help us to know ourselves—they remind us of our own humanity and the humanity in others. For decades, Poets & Writers has nurtured writers who craft the stories that enrich all of our lives. I am thrilled to accept this honor and look forward to celebrating with some of my favorite authors.”

Over the course of her esteemed career, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. Winfrey’s accomplishments as a global media leader, philanthropist, and best-selling author have established her as one of the most influential and admired public figures today. With the launch of Oprah’s Book Club in 1996 and more than eighty selections to date, she has enlightened and uplifted readers through the power of literature. In 2018, Oprah partnered with Apple to build a vibrant, global book club with the intention to connect a community of readers worldwide to stories that truly matter by today’s most thought-provoking authors.

The Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Awards

Michael Chabon; Amanda Gorman. (Credits, from left to right: courtesy of the author; Stephanie Mitchell.)

The Writers for Writers Award was established by Poets & Writers in 1996 to recognize authors who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community. It is named for Barnes & Noble in appreciation of the company’s long-standing sponsorship of Poets & Writers.

This year, two writers will be recognized. Acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon has devoted time to the literary community, notably through his service on the board of the MacDowell Colony. Less visibly—often anonymously—he has donated the proceeds of several books to organizations that support writers and helped to raise funds to assist other authors. Amanda Gorman is a dynamic ambassador for poetry. The twenty-one-year-old served as the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate and founded One Pen One Page to encourage young people to share their voices and to provide free creative writing programming for underserved youth.

Michael Chabon is the best-selling author of The Mysteries of PittsburghA Model World and Other StoriesWonder BoysThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayTelegraph AvenueMoonglow, and several other books. He has written fiction for adults and children, creative nonfiction, screenplays, teleplays, and song lyrics for Mark Ronson, Rhett Miller, and the Monkees. Chabon is currently showrunner for the forthcoming Star Trek: Picard on CBS AllAccess. His numerous honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, an O. Henry Award, a California Book Award, a National Jewish Book Award, and the Jewish Book Council’s Modern Literary Achievement Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has served as chairman of the MacDowell Colony’s board of directors since 2010.

Amanda Gorman made history in 2017 by being named the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate. Now twenty-one, the Los Angeles native is a senior at Harvard in the top of her class studying sociology. Since publishing a poetry collection at sixteen, her writing has won her invitations to the Obama White House and to perform for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and others. Ms. Gorman is the founder of One Pen One Page and the youngest member of the board of directors of 826 National, the largest youth writing network in the country. She has received a Genius Grant from OZY Media, as well as recognition from Scholastic Inc., YoungArts, the Glamour magazine College Women of the Year Awards, and the Webby Awards. She currently writes for the New York Times newsletter the Edit and recently signed a two-book deal with Viking.

More about the honorees can be found here.

50th Anniversary Gala

The awards will be presented on Monday evening, March 16, 2020, at Pier Sixty in New York City. The chair of Poets & Writers’ 50th Anniversary Gala is Michael Pietsch, chief executive officer of Hachette Book Group. Among the many writers expected to be in attendance are a number of authors whose books have been selected for Oprah’s Book Club.

The evening is expected to generate over $750,000, with proceeds to support Poets & Writers’ programs for creative writers. More information about the event can be found here.

About Poets & Writers

Poets & Writers was founded in 1970 and has been the primary source of trustworthy information, professional guidance, support, and inspiration for writers for nearly fifty years. Our work is rooted in the belief that literature is vital to sustaining a vibrant culture. We focus on nurturing literature’s source: creative writers. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public. Looking to the future, Poets & Writers will empower creative writers and strengthen literary communities throughout the United States. Learn more at pw.org.