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The Lambda Literary Awards (the “Lammys”) identify and celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year and affirm that LGBTQ stories are part of the literature of the world. This year’s star-studded awards will be held on June 13, 2017 at 7pm, at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place.
This year Lambda Literary is thrilled to honor celebrated writer Jacqueline Woodson with the Visionary Award.
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, the NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award.
Woodson’s latest novel, Another Brooklyn, a finalist for the National Book Award, is also nominated for the Lambda Literary Award. Woodson was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for adults, young adults and children.
Woodson took some time to talk with the Lambda Literary Review about the power of literature and writing for outsider communities.
What inspired you to dedicate yourself to a life of letters and literature?
I’ve always loved writing and because it made me happiest. I couldn’t imagine not doing it for the rest of my life.
Why do you feel that storytelling is an important endeavor?
Reading introduces people to lives they might not otherwise ever encounter. Because of this, as Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop writes, it gives readers “mirrors and windows”—reflections of themselves in the world as well as windows into other worlds. I love being a part of an art that endeavors to help people understand each other.
Queer readers have really responded to you work, but when you are crafting a new piece of writing do you usually have an imagined audience in mind?
Do you have any advice for emerging writers, particularly those who come from outsider communities?
We all come from outsider communities, whether we know it or not. Write specifically and furiously. Write to change the world.