The Literarian Award, 2013

Ms. Toni Morrison presents the Literarian Award to Dr. Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou accepts the 2013 Literarian Award

Dr. Maya Angelou honored with 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding
Service to the American Literary

Image of Dr. Maya Angelou, credit Dwight The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, will award its 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to Dr. Maya Angelou at the 64th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner. The event will be held on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at Cipriani, 55 Wall Street, in New York.

Dr. Angelou is a globally revered author and humanitarian. She is best known for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a groundbreaking autobiography that opened new literary avenues for the American memoir. Angelou’s numerous writings explore subjects such as identity, rape, racism, literacy, the importance of family, and the quest for independence.

This year’s ceremony marks the ninth year the Foundation has presented the Literarian Award, which was established in 2005 to recognize an individual whose work has enhanced the literary world during a lifetime of service. Previous recipients include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein, Terry Gross, Barney Rosset, Dave Eggers, Joan Ganz Cooney, and Mitchell Kaplan.

Nominations for these awards are made by former National Book Award Winners, Finalists, and Judges, as well as other writers and literary professionals from around the country. Final selections are made by the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Dr. Maya Angelou photo byDwight Carter.

about Dr. Maya Angelou

Born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, Dr. Maya Angelou is a writer, poet, performer, and teacher. In 1969, with the publication of her groundbreaking literary autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou rose to international prominence as an author. Caged Bird is an intelligent and sophisticated story of how Angelou transformed herself from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-assured, dignified young woman and civil activist. The book was banned by many schools and colleges because of its frank portrayal of childhood rape, racism, and sexuality. In 2013, at the age of 85, Angelou published her seventh autobiography, Mom & Me & Mom.

Dr. Angelou has also published five books of poetry, including I Shall Not Be Moved, three books of essays, including Letter to My Daughter, a children's book, and six long-form poems, including “Mother” and “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read at the 1992 inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton. Angelou's reading marked the first time that an African American woman wrote and presented a poem at a Presidential inauguration. She was also the second poet in history to do so, following Robert Frost, who recited a poem at the swearing-in ceremony of John F. Kennedy in 1961. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles.

Angelou's remarkable career encompasses dance, theater, journalism, and social activism. She appeared in Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, including Cabaret for Freedom, which she wrote with Godfrey Cambridge. She also lived and worked in Cairo and Ghana, first as the associate editor of The Arab Observer and then as features editor and writer for The Ghanaian Times. At the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she served as the Northern Coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1978, she was a National Book Award Judge for Biography and Autobiography.

Angelou has received more than 30 honorary degrees and has been inducted into the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame for Writers. In 2010 President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.