August 5, 2022, Chicago, Ill. – The American Writers Museum (AWM) will host its annual OnWord benefit on September 15 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago to raise funds for the museum’s operations, including its youth education program. This year’s theme centers around Inspiration and there will be no shortage of inspiring people in the room who have made a mark in the world through their words, their leadership, and their teachings. One of the evening’s honorees is Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, essayist, editor, scholar, and educator who the Inspiring Writer Award will be bestowed upon.
“There is no one more deserving of the Inspiring Writer Award than Viet as he has made such positive contributions to literature and helped empower so many young writers. His request for the prize money to go directly to The Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network to support their work of nurturing writers and artists just shows how remarkable he is,” said Grove Mower, Vice Chair of the AWM Board of Trustees and 2022 Event Co-Chair.
Additional honors for the evening include:
- Inspirational Teacher Award to be presented by Nate Marshall, an award-winning writer, editor, educator, and MC. Each year, the AWM selects an established writer to nominate a teacher who they feel was inspirational to them. The selected teacher is awarded a $10,000 prize sponsored by the Chicago Council of the American Writers Museum.
- Cultural and Civic Leadership Award to Hill Hammock with tributes from Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Barbara Gaines, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; David Greising, President Better Government Association; and Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President.
- The John Estey Student Writing Competition Awards to the winners of the third annual contest, tied to the museum’s exhibit entitled Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice which opens September 22. This free writing competition is part of the AWM’s efforts to motivate and inspire the young writers of tomorrow. Teachers were invited to submit entries of any genre from 3rd-grade through 12th-grade students using a quote from James Baldwin, “The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.”, as a jumping-off point, a first line from which students can write their imagining of the place in which they will fit. $10,000 in scholarships and prizes will be awarded to six finalists:
- The high school winners are Elizabeth Boguslavsky, Glenbard South High School, IL and Lana Olarte, Durham School of the Arts, NC.
- The middle school winners are Ali Giordano, Lazar Middle School, NJ and Alisha Walker, Lincoln Middle School, IL.
- The elementary school winners are Olivia Bakal, Oakwood School, CA and Evelyn Basken, Alcott College Prep Elementary School, IL.
About the American Writers Museum
The American Writers Museum is the first museum of its kind in the United States. The mission of the American Writers Museum is to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, and our daily lives. The museum is located at 180 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60601, and offers something for every age group including permanent exhibits and special galleries highlighting America’s favorite works and the authors behind them. Tickets to the museum are $14 for adults, $9 for seniors, students, and teachers. Free for members and children ages 12 and under. To inquire about discounted rates for groups of 10 or more, including adults, student travel groups, and University students, visit AmericanWritersMuseum.org/visit/groups/ or call 312-374-8770. Museum hours are Thursday – Monday 10 AM – 5 PM. For more information visit AmericanWritersMuseum.org or call 312-374-8790.