Thursday, September 19, 2019
61 W. Superior Street
Sterling Plumpp will receive the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame’s Fuller Award for lifetime achievement at a ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Poetry Foundation. On hand to pay tribute will be a distinguished lineup of speakers and performers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess, Ronne Hartfield, Duriel E. Harris, Abdul Alkalimat, Haki Madhubuti, Reginald Gibbons, and Billy Branch. During Sterling’s long and distinguished poetry career, he has written about African American ancestry, racism, economic oppression, the blues, and a myriad of other subjects reflecting an aesthetic steeped in a dignified advocacy for social justice. Though born in Mississippi, Sterling came to Chicago in 1962, and his experiences as a student, postal worker, and draftee have informed his art. Among his many awards, Sterling has won several Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, the American Book Award, and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for Poetry from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library.
Publisher’s Weekly, in reviewing Johannesburg & Other Poems, said that Sterling was “a poet who looks with his ears.” Indeed, Sterling has infused jazz and blues rhythms throughout his work, and has said, “I’m directly influenced by blues performers and not record performance. You know, I spent fifty years of my life witnessing blues singers, and that’s what I’m trying to capture.”
In addition to his poetry work, Sterling has edited several anthologies, and served as editor for the Third World Press and the Institute for Positive Education. He has also served as an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle since the 1970s.
The event is free and open to the public; a reception will follow the ceremony. Chicago Literary Hall of Fame only inducts historical writers into the Hall of Fame, and so the Fuller was created as a way to acknowledge our greatest living Chicago writers. Gene Wolfe (2012), Harry Mark Petrakis (2014), Haki Madhubuti (2015), Rosellen Brown (2016), Angela Jackson (2018), and Stuart Dybek (2018) received past Fuller Awards. Sara Paretsky will be .honored in the spring of 2019.