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Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Honor Diverse Stories of Poets and Authors

A photo illustration of poet Sonia Sanchez
Sonia Sanchez will receive an Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award for her decades of work as a poet, playwright and activist.

Cleveland Book Week starts Sept. 18 with literary events celebrating the winners of this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Four authors are honored for their work celebrating diversity and understanding the roots of racism.

Poet Sonia Sanchez will receive a lifetime achievement award for her career as a celebrated author and founder of the Black Arts Movement.

"She's a poet and essayist. She is a civil rights and peace activist. In a profound way, those things converge in her writing," Awards Manager Karen Long said. 

Other award winners include former poet laureate Tracy K. Smith for her book "Wade in the Water."

Andrew Delbanco is honored for his nonfiction book "The War Before the War" about the history of runaway slaves before the Civil War.

Novelist Tommy Orange is recognized for his debut "There There" about what it means to be Native American in Oakland, California.

In a presentation at Kent State University Sept. 18, Sanchez will discuss how poetry and student activism have changed in the legacy of the May 4 shootings

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony is Sept. 26 at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. 

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.