BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 11, 2008 – University Distinguished Professor of English Nikki Giovanni received the 2007 Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation and the Chicago Public Library.
Giovanni was the first poet to win the award named for Sandburg.
An audience of 500 gathered at Chicago's Harold Washington Library Center to enjoy Giovanni's wit, charm and literary genius as she read from her works. The Carl Sandburg Literary Award is presented annually in recognition of a significant body of work that has enhanced the public’s awareness of the written word and reflects the Library’s commitment to the freedom to read, to learn, and discover. Previous honorees include David Mamet, John Updike, David McCullough, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Caro, and Joyce Carol Oates.
Giovanni, who teaches in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the past thirty years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others. She is the author of 30 books. She writes both for adults and children.
PHOTO CAPTION: Nikki Giovanni and Chicago Public Library Foundation Board Chair Jim Donnelley.