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Sherley Williams Memorial Award in Literary Arts

The Williams Prize in Literary Arts was established in 2004 by the Department of Literature in memory of Sherley A. Williams, who was a faculty member in the department. Williams emerged from a poverty stricken background, the daughter of migrant workers, to become an award-winning novelist, poet and playwright. She was a renowned poet for works such as The Peacock Poems, that was Pulitzer Prize nominated, and Some One Sweet Angel, both of which were National Book Award nominees. Williams used her own experiences of picking cotton as a migrant worker to write the children’s book Working Cotton, which garnered her the 1992 Caldecott Award and a Coretta Scott King Book Award. She gained critical acclaim for her novel Dessa Rose and was writing the sequel at the time of her death.

Sherley Williams
Sherley Anne Williams
Williams winner photo
2024 Winner:
Ruofei Ivy Du