Roger Ebert wins Carl Sandburg Literary Award

Roger Ebert wins Carl Sandburg Literary Award

I didn’t know Carl Sandburg wrote film criticism. But I do now because Roger Ebert posted on Facebook his May 2000 column about Sandburg and the movies.

Ebert, the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, posted that essay because he will receive this year’s Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

"The award is named after the former film critic of the Chicago Daily News," Ebert joked about the latest honor to come his way.

 Ebert  will receive the honor at the Sandburg gala on Oct. 20 at the Forum on the campus of the UI-Chicago.

"Without question, Roger is a master of the written word," foundation CEO Rhona Frazin told The Chicago Sun-Times, where Ebert, an Urbana native, has worked since 1966, two years after graduating from the University of Illinois journalism program

The gala’s co-chair, Donna La Pietra, told The Sun-Times that Ebert was "a unanimous choice" of the selection committee.

"Roger is a brilliant writer on so many levels," she said.

"First I was humbled," Ebert told The Sun-Times. "Then I thought, it’s sort of appropriate, because Carl Sandburg was in fact the film critic of the Chicago Daily News for much of the 1920s, and I wrote the introduction to his collected reviews. So now he’s returning the favor."

Ebert also has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, won the Chicago TV Academy Silver Circle Award in 2005 and received a special-achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers, the first given to a film critic.

Ebert also was inducted into the Lincoln Academy in 2001. That’s the highest honor bestowed by the state of Illinois.

To read his 2000 column on Sandburg as critic, go to

Since 1999, Ebert has hosted in Champaign his annual film festival, a special event of the UI College of Media. I know there are many folks here who would like to give him an award for that!



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