At the most recent National Book Awards presentation, writer Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929), whose work encompasses novels, children's books, short stories, essays, and poetry, received a lifetime achievement award, the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Le Guin gave a wonderful, generous, courageous acceptance speech that is worth seeing and hearing:
Le Guin left us with these marvelous words that should not be forgotten:
"[. . .] I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.
"Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. [. . .]
"Books, you know, they're not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. [. . .]"