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Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Events
Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Events


Fuller Award: Patricia Smith

Thursday, July 11, 2024
6-8:15 p.m.

The Poetry Foundation
61 W. Superior
Chicago, IL 60654

On July 11, Patricia Smith will receive the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame's Fuller Award for her lifetime achievements. Registration is now open. The ceremony, co-presented with our host the Poetry Foundation, as well as American Writers Museum, Shipman Agency, Inc., Chicago Poetry Center, and Guild Literary Complex, will be free and open to the public. A reception begins at 6 p.m., with the ceremony starting promptly at 7. Chicago Poet Laureate avery r. young will lead a lineup that includes Nora Brooks BlakelyReginald GibbonsPoetry Out Loud National Champion Niveah Glover, Adrian Matejka, Marc Smith, and Jamila WoodsLynne Thompson will lead a conversation with Smith at the end of the program. We expect a full audience, so register now

Smith, a product of Chicago's West Side, has distinguished herself as a poet, spoken-word performer, author, and teacher. For more than three decades, Smith's prolific and varied output has placed her amongst the nation's finest poets. Between 1990 and 1993, Smith won three National Poetry Slam individual championships, with a second-place finish in 1992; she captured a fourth title in 1995. During that time, Smith published her first three poetry collections: Life According to Motown (1991), Big Towns, Big Talk (1992), and Close to Death (1993). Smith's writing stood up on the page; when merged with charismatic, powerful performance skills, it made her a legend in the nascent slam community. Her introduction and initiation to the scene were all in Chicago, especially The Green Mill, where the first two national championships were held. Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott produced a selection of Smith's poetry as a one-woman play which was performed at Boston University and the Trinidad Theater Workshop.

To date, Smith has authored nine poetry books. her latest publications include, Unshuttered (Feb 2023); Incendiary Art (2017), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (2008), a National Book Award finalist; and Gotta Go, Gotta Flow, a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson. Much of her work draws inspiration from urban life, especially Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust on Chicago's South Side (2015).

Her other books include Teahouse of the Almighty (2006), the children's book Janna and the Kings (2003), and the history of Africans in America (1998), a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology–New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks (2017) and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir (2012).

Smith is the 2021 recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and a 2022 inductee of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  She is a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University; a former distinguished professor for the City University of New York; and a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Post-Graduate Residency Program. Smith is a Guggenheim fellow, a Civitellian, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and a former fellow at both Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. 


Registration for the Fuller Award ceremony will continue until the Poetry Foundation reaches its capacity.

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