ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The NYS Writers Institute announced that they have named Jacqueline Woodson as the new State Author and Patricia Spears Jones as the new State Poet. Woodson and Jones will serve in the honorary positions for two years, and will each be awarded a $10,000 honorarium.

The designations were established in 1985 by Governor Mario Cuomo and the state legislature to help promote fiction and poetry in New York. The awardees are chosen by panels of jurors, including students, facilitated by the Writers Institute at the University at Albany.

“We offer our heartiest congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson and Patricia Spears Jones,” said NYS Writers Institute Opalka Endowed Director Paul Grondahl. “These two outstanding writers with New York roots are worthy recipients of these prestigious honors. We celebrate their singular literary excellence and how each embodies the vitality of the literary arts in New York State.”

Woodson’s memoir, “Brown Girl Dreaming”, won the 2014 National Book Award and was a New York Times bestseller. Jones is the winner of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers and the honoree of a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Woodson will be awarded the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction, while Jones will be awarded the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit for Poetry. The awards will be presented at a ceremony hosted by University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez on September 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s campus center west auditorium.

“New York was home to two towering literary figures who are namesakes of these awards: the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit for Poetry and the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction,” Grondahl said. “Woodson and Jones join an illustrious group of past recipients, who comprise a pantheon of diverse and exemplary voices. Their writing powerfully depicts the human experience and what it means to be a New Yorker, an American and a citizen of the world.”

The awards ceremony also acts as a kickoff to the annual Albany Book Fair on September 23, which will also feature appearances by Woodson and Jones. Both events are free and open to the public.