On Sunday, July 10th, more than 1,000 enthusiastic community members, fans, and artists gathered for a beautiful, warm day on the verdant grounds of MacDowell to celebrate the internationally renowned poet, writer, and 62nd Edward MacDowell Medalist Sonia Sanchez!
The weather was stunning for our first public Medal Day since 2019. Under the big white tent, Board President Andrew Senchak welcomed our guests before Board Chair and MacDowell Fellow Nell Painter spoke on how Sonia's work illuminates the redeeming qualities of American society. Executive Director Philip Himberg then introduced prolific novelist and MacDowell Fellow Walter Mosley, who reflected on the impact of Sonia's incredible decades-long career. The ceremony concluded with a heartfelt and rousing acceptance speech from Sonia, followed by a poetry performance with musical accompaniment on electric bass from MacDowell Fellow Jamaaladeen Tacuma.
After a picnic lunch, the MacDowell grounds bustled with visitors on the usually quiet paths as artists-in-residence graciously invited the public into their open studios, showing works in progress and describing the artistic processes being undertaken at MacDowell. This year we were joined by the Peterborough Town Library, whose staff set up a Pop-up Poetry Library in our lilac garden where visitors browsed poetry on display and were invited to create their own poems using local artist Erin Sweeney’s zine as a guide and by gathering words found on the MacDowell grounds.
An author and international lecturer on Black culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace, and racial justice, Sonia Sanchez joins an august group of other MacDowell Medal winners such as Robert Frost (1962), Georgia O’Keeffe (1972), Leonard Bernstein (1987), Louise Bourgeois (1990), I.M. Pei (1998), Sonny Rollins (2010), Stephen Sondheim (2013), Toni Morrison (2016), Art Spiegelman (2018), Charles Gaines (2019), and Rosanne Cash (2021).
Sanchez is the author of more than 20 books of poetry, children’s literature, and plays, including We a BaddDDD People, Homegirls and Handgrenades (winner of the 1985 American Book Award), Under a Soprano Sky, Does Your House Have Lions?, Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Shake Loose My Skin, and Morning Haiku.