“Sonia Sanchez is a national treasure.”
Sonia Sanchez (Credit: Tom Hallock)
New York, NY—April 26, 2022—Poets & Writers announced today that Sonia Sanchez is the recipient of the 2022 Jackson Poetry Prize. The prize is awarded annually by Poets & Writers to recognize an American poet of exceptional talent. Endowed by John and Susan Jackson, this year’s prize carries a monetary award of $80,000.
Ms. Sanchez was selected by three esteemed judges: the poets Mary Jo Bang, Marilyn Chin, and Claudia Rankine. There was no application process. Poets were nominated by a panel of their peers who will remain anonymous.
In their citation the judges extolled the impact of Sanchez’s work: “Over her seven-decade career, Sonia Sanchez has distinguished herself as a major figure in American letters. A founding member of the Black Arts Movement, she has taught generations of poets—creating essential spaces for Black Studies where none previously existed. … Her vast and commanding oeuvre of published poetry invokes the power and revolutionary properties of language itself—intoning the struggles and joys of entire communities while reinvigorating traditional forms. … Sonia Sanchez is a national treasure.” The judges also referenced the praise offered by the late Toni Morrison, who said of Sanchez: “You have spoken for us...Written for us...Sung to us...How much in your debt we are.” Read the full citation.
Sanchez is the author of over twenty books and is a poet, professor, and international lecturer on Black culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace, and racial justice. Upon learning that she is this year’s Jackson Poetry Prize winner, Ms. Sanchez quoted a line from her book Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010): “Let me wear the day / Well so when it reaches you / You will enjoy it.” Expressing gratitude to Poets & Writers, the Jackson family, and the judges, she added: “I promise to continue to wear my days well as I move in the light that is your organization of dedicated supporters and lovers of poetry.”
Poets & Writers will host a virtual celebration in honor of Sonia Sanchez this spring. For more information, visit pw.org.
About Sonia Sanchez
Sonia Sanchez is the author of over twenty books, most recently Collected Poems (Beacon Press, 2021). Her multiple honors include the 2018 Wallace Stevens Award, the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2021 Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize, the 2022 Edward MacDowell Medal, and a 2022 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award (also administered by Poets & Writers). In 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter selected Sanchez as that city’s first poet laureate, calling her “the longtime conscience of the city.” A beloved educator across generations, Sanchez was among those who developed Black Studies as an academic discipline in the mid-1960s. She has lectured at over five hundred universities and colleges in the United States and has traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Cuba, England, Europe, Nicaragua, Norway, and the People’s Republic of China.
About the Jackson Prize
The Jackson Poetry Prize is endowed by a gift from the Liana Foundation and is named for the John and Susan Jackson family. There is no application process; poets are nominated by a panel of their peers who remain anonymous. Previous recipients of the Jackson Poetry Prize are Carl Phillips (2021), Ed Roberson (2020), Joy Harjo (2019), John Yau (2018), Patricia Spears Jones (2017), Will Alexander (2016), X. J. Kennedy (2015), Claudia Rankine (2014), Arthur Sze (2013), Henri Cole (2012), James Richardson (2011), Harryette Mullen (2010), Linda Gregg (2009), Tony Hoagland (2008), and Elizabeth Alexander (2007).
About Poets & Writers
Poets & Writers is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers throughout the United States. 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. We publish Poets & Writers Magazine, offer mini-grants to hundreds of creative writers each year, and sponsor the Jackson Poetry Prize and Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. Our website, pw.org, offers extensive free resources to help writers navigate the literary marketplace and a lively online community. We are guided by our core values of service, inclusivity, integrity, and excellence and are committed to becoming an antiracist organization. Learn more at pw.org.