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News & Features » April 2015 » Eric Charles May to receive 21st Century Award!

Eric Charles May to receive 21st Century Award!

BedrockFaithCongratulations to Bedrock Faith author Eric Charles May, who has been named the 2015 recipient of the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library! The 21st Century Award is given annually to a Chicago-based author for a “recent significant achievement in writing.”

See below for the full announcement from the Chicago Public Library:

The Chicago Public Library Foundation and the Chicago Public Library today announced that the 16th annual Carl Sandburg Literary Award will be presented to legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Universally heralded for his immense contributions to musical theater in a career spanning more than 50 years, Sondheim will be honored at the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at The Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Stephen Sondheim’s love of language and his insights, so beautifully expressed in his songs, make him a perfect recipient for the Sandburg Award,” said Bob Wislow, Board Chair of the Chicago Public Library Foundation. “Sondheim’s work is robustly represented in various areas of the Chicago Public Library, on recordings, video and the written word. While his work was written to be showcased in live performance, his creativity, insights and ideas, as expressed in detail in his two books ‘Finishing The Hat” and ‘Look I Made A Hat,’ are so rich that they resonate with audiences in any form.”

The Carl Sandburg Literary Award is presented to writers in honor of their collective body of work and is now recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, having been presented to many of the world’s most esteemed fiction and non-fiction authors. The celebration attracts nearly 800 members of Chicago’s civic and cultural communities and is one of the city’s most popular social events, with a cocktail reception and dinner during which guests at each table enjoy the company of a prominent writer, musician, filmmaker or artist with ties to Chicago. The highlight of the evening is an insight-filled onstage conversation with the esteemed Mr. Sondheim moderated by National Public Radio host and author Scott Simon. The evening concludes with a dessert reception.

Also being honored is Eric Charles May, who will receive the 21st Century Award, which salutes authors who have released few but exceptional books. An associate professor in the Fiction Writing program of Columbia College, the native Chicagoan’s debut novel “Bedrock Faith” was published in 2014 to widespread acclaim.

The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner raises funds to support the literary and educational outreach initiatives of the Chicago Public Library including the Summer Learning Challenge; One Book, One Chicago; Teacher in the Library and CyberNavigators.  The Sandburg Dinner is presented annually by the Chicago Public Library Foundation in partnership with the Chicago Public Library. The Foundation is led by Board Chair Bob Wislow, chairman, CRBE Chicago and Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin. The event will be chaired by Foundation Director Dina Yaghmai-Payvar MD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and produced by Foundation Director Donna La Pietra. Business and civic leader John Bryan will serve as the honorary chair. Each year, for the past three years, the event has raised $1.5 million for innovative services for children, adults and families at the library.

“The support that the Chicago Public Library receives from Chicago’s generous business and philanthropic community ensures that our city’s libraries are recognized as leaders in the field world-wide,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “In the past year alone, we have seen record-breaking participation in Foundation-funded initiatives such as the Summer Learning Challenge, YOUmedia and Homework Help programs.”

Another highlight of the evening is that an acclaimed author or artist is seated at every table to converse with guests and discuss their work. In the past, nationally recognized journalists, fiction writers, poets, photographers and musicians have all been featured guests at the event. Each dinner attendee goes home with personally inscribed copies of works by table authors and honorees as a keepsake of the evening.

Past winners of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award are Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mavis Staples, Larry McMurtry, Michael Lewis, Isabel Allende, Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, David Mamet, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Wolfe and Salman Rushdie.

BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation was founded in 1986 as a true public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure the margin of excellence for Chicago’s outstanding Library.  Through the support of many civic-minded individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation provides on-going funding for collections and a variety of community-responsive programs include the Summer Learning Challenge, Teacher in the Library, CyberNavigators, YOUmedia and One Book, One Chicago.  In the past 28 years, the Foundation has provided $55 million in support to the Chicago Public Library.

Since 1873, the Chicago Public Library has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, ideas and knowledge through materials, programs and cutting-edge technology. The Chicago Public Library system has 80 library locations throughout the city including the flagship Harold Washington Library Center, all providing free access to a rich collection of books, DVDs, audio books and music; the Internet and WiFi; online resources; newspapers and magazines. In 2014, the Library continues to serve as neighborhood cultural centers, presenting author discussions, exhibits, homework help and technology programs for children, teens and adults. Chicago Public Library has been hailed for its leadership role in supporting smart cities in a knowledge economy through innovative services and programs. CPL recently received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; is a finalist for a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and was ranked number one in the U.S. and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany.

About the Honorees

Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for “Saturday Night” (1954), “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (1962), “Anyone Can Whistle” (1964), “Company” (1970), “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music”(1973), “The Frogs” (1974), “Pacific Overtures” (1976), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), “Merrily We Roll Along” (1981), “Sunday in the Park with George” (1984), “Into the Woods” (1987), “Assassins” (1991), “Passion” (1994) and “Road Show” (2008), as well as lyrics for “West Side Story” (1957), “Gypsy” (1959), “Do I Hear A Waltz?” (1965) and additional lyrics for “Candide” (1973). “Side by Side by Sondheim”(1976), “Marry Me A Little” (1981), “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” (1983), “Putting It Together” (1993/99), “Moving On” (2001) and “Sondheim on Sondheim” (2010) are anthologies of his work as composer and lyricist. For films, he composed the score of “Stavisky” (1974), co-composed the score for “Reds” (1981) and wrote songs for “Dick Tracy” (1990). He wrote songs for the television production “Evening Primrose” (1966), co-authored the film “The Last of Sheila” (1973) and the play “Getting Away With Murder” (1996) and provided incidental music for the plays “The Girls of Summer” (1956), “Invitation to a March” (1961), “Twigs” (1971) and “The Enclave” (1973). His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: “Finishing the Hat” (2010) and “Look, I Made A Hat” (2011). In 2010, the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed in his honor.

Sondheim has been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors and numerous Tony and Drama Desk Awards. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Sunday in the Park with George” and the Academy Award for Best Song for “Sooner Or Later” from the film “Dick Tracy.” He was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University, received the Laurence Oliver Society of London Theatre Special Award and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which awarded him with the Gold Medal for Music.

Eric Charles May is the author of the novel “Bedrock Faith,” which was named a Notable African-American Title by Publisher’s Weekly and a Top Ten Debut Novel for 2014 by Booklist magazine. An associate professor in the Fiction Writing program at Columbia College Chicago, May is a Chicago native (raised in Morgan Park and South Shore) and a former reporter for The Washington Post. His fiction has also appeared in Fish Stories, F, Flyleaf Journal, Criminal Class, Solstice, and Hypetext. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, the Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay anthology, “Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck.”

Posted: Apr 2, 2015

Category: News | Tags: , , , ,