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date: 29 March 2020

Neal, Larry locked

(1937–1981), poet, essayist, editor, playwright, critic, filmmaker, folklorist, and one of the Black Arts movement's spiritual journeymen.
  • Elizabeth Sanders Delwiche Engelhardt


Born Lawrence Paul Neal to Woodie and Maggie Neal in Atlanta, Georgia, on 5 September 1937, Neal grew up in Philadelphia with his four brothers. Larry Neal graduated from Lincoln University and then completed a master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent most of his adult life in New York.

Although he was a prolific essayist, Neal is perhaps best known for editing Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing with Amiri Baraka. This collection, published in 1968, was among the early attempts to define the aesthetic of the new Black Arts movement. Neal's essays included in Black Fire and elsewhere are recognized as some of the most cogent statements of that aesthetic. Neal was committed to politics in his life and writing; but he insisted on artistic rigor as well as revoluntary intent in literature.

Neal produced reviews of artists ranging from Lorraine ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature.

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