Poet and Fiction Writer
Brooklyn, NY
2009 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Prudential Foundation.

Sapphire is a poet and novelist. Her novel, Push (1996), explores the life of a 16-year-old girl in Harlem as she struggles with illiteracy, pregnancy, and survival. Winner of the Stephen Crane First Fiction Award and the First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Push has been adapted into a major motion picture entitled Precious. Directed by Lee Daniels, it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and opened in November 2009, presented by Lionsgate in association with Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. Her collections of poetry include American Dreams (1994) and Black Wings and Blind Angels (2000), and her work has been anthologized in Poems for America: 125 Poems that Celebrate the American Experience (2003). In her work, she offers explorations of the often-harrowing challenges and significant triumphs in the lives of children in New York City.

Portrait photo courtesy the artist.

  • Artwork by Sapphire
    Push, 1996; photo courtesy the artist and Vintage Contemporaries
Artwork by Sapphire