Today on My Poetic Side we bring you articles about an event honouring Sonia Sanchez, a statue of Maya Angelou planned for the city of San Francisco and the finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards.
Sonia Sanchez Honoured by Event
Sonia Sanchez, the Germantown poet who was the first poet laureate of Philadelphia, was recently awarded the Wallace Stevens $100,000 lifetime achievement prize by the American Academy of Poets.
A tribute was held recently for the poet at the African American Museum. There was a question and answer session with a former student of the poet moderating. During the session, Sonia Sanchez shared details of her journey, from her beginnings as a young girl in Alabama to living in New York City and then travelling around the country working as a professor and a poet. It wasn’t until 1977 when she was offered a tenured position at Temple that she settled down in Georgetown. She held this position from 1977 to 1999. She has worked tirelessly for 5 decades using arts as a means to challenge injustice and working to bring about a more just society.
San Francisco to Erect More Statues of Women
The city of San Francisco currently has just two memorial statues of nonfictional women on display in public spaces. The first is Florence Nightingale and the second is Sen. Dianne Feinstein. However, on Tuesday this week the Board of Supervisors approved a new policy that will ensure that a minimum of 30% of the historical statues of figures in the city will be of women. This policy will also extend to the names of streets and buildings.
The first statue that is being planned under the new policy will be of the poet and author Maya Angelou – it is hoped that this will be in place by the end of 2020 outside the main library
Last month, the city removed the monument titled “Early Days” from the Civic Center Plaza. The monument was felt to be racist for depicting a missionary and a vaquero standing over a Native American.
San Francisco are not the only city who are being forced to rethink their stand on which historical figures should be used on memorials in locations all over the city. Those who have campaigned for greater representation of women are delighted with the decision but can’t help wondering why the decision was made to make it just 30% and not 50%
Governor Generals Literary Awards
The finalists for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Awards have been announced. There are 7 English language categories for the prizes; fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, translation and young people’s literature – text and illustration. There is a also a prize in each category for a French language award.
Billy-Ray Belacourt, who earlier this year was awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize has been nominated in the poetry category for “This Wound is a World”.
The winners will be announced on 30th October and the winner in each category will receive a prize of $25,000. The award has been running since 2937 and previous winners include Madeleine Thien, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood.