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Michelle Obama announces awards to honor memoir writers

by Morris Muriuki

As she announced the start of the awards, Michelle said, “I want young people everywhere to know that their voices and stories matter.”

The Michelle Obama Award for Memoir, a new creative writing prize focusing on memoir writing for public high school students, has been introduced by former US first lady Michelle Obama.

The launch by We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting diversity of many forms in children’s literature and publishing, and Penguin Random House, an American book publisher, aims to celebrate memoir writers.

 

Michelle spoke on her enthusiasm for empowering young people to understand the value of presenting their own story via their own eyes and words on her social media platforms.

 “I have always been passionate about helping young people discover the power of telling their own stories. Today, I am thrilled to share that Penguin Random House and We Need Diverse Books are launching the Michelle Obama Award for Memoir, a new creative writing award focused on memoir writing for public high school students,” Michelle wrote.

Based on an autobiographical English-language work, the Obama prize will provide a $10,000 college tuition to a senior in a public high school each year.

 

The award in the decades-old Creative Writing Awards program, which also includes categories named for Amanda Gorman (poetry) and Maya Angelou, was renamed on Wednesday, October 12. Penguin Random House made the announcement (spoken word).

Based on an autobiographical English-language essay, the Obama prize will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a senior in a public high school each year.

 

Michelle’s memoir ‘Becoming’ was published in 2018 and has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide, making it the most popular book by a modern White House resident. She is expected to release her new book, ‘The Light We Carry’ in November 2022.

In a statement released by Penguin Random House according to international media outlets, Michelle said, “I know firsthand how nerve-wracking it can be to share the most intimate stories from your life with the world,”.

The former first lady highlighted this as an opportunity for people to not only see themselves as they are but also one through which may change how they think about themselves.

“But after publishing my memoir ‘Becoming,’ I’ve learned that writing your own story can be a powerful tool. When we share the whole of ourselves, we offer others the opportunity to not only see us as we are but maybe even think about themselves in a new way,” she said.

She also sees the opportunity to exploit the things the world has to offer despite the differences the world may have to offer.

“This allows us to harness the things that set us apart and helps us see the world as the nuanced, messy, beautiful place that it is. That’s why I am so excited about this new award, and I can’t wait to read what this next generation of young writers will share with us all,” she added.

The Creative Writing Awards program was established in 1993 and has given more than $2.8 million to public high school students.

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