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Diane Todd Bucci

journalist, music critic, author, filmmaker, and television producer, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended St. John's University, and while there began his writing career at the black newspaper the Amsterdam News, where he was a college intern. During this time he also contributed to the music trade journal Billboard. After graduating from St. John's in 1979, George worked as a freelance writer and lived with his mother and sister in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Brooklyn. It did not take him long, though, to begin what would prove to be a flourishing career. George found employment as a black music editor, first for Real World magazine from 1981 to 1982, and then at Billboard from 1982 to 1989. He moved on to write a successful column entitled “Native Son” for the Village Voice, from 1989 to ...


Brian P. Hochman

poet, novelist, and literary critic, was born Nathaniel Ernest Mackey in Miami, Florida, the son of Alexander Obadiah Mackey and Sadie Jane Wilcox. When Mackey was four his parents divorced, and he and his three older siblings moved from Miami to northern California with their mother. In 1958 they relocated to the southern California city of Santa Ana, where Mackey attended high school. Although Mackey neither wrote nor read seriously during these years—in fact, his earliest aspiration was to become a mathematician—weekly trips to his family's Baptist church galvanized in him a deep interest in African American music. His experiences at church, coupled with his discovery of the music of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman during high school proved formative black music would in all its varying forms eventually come to represent Mackey s literary bass line To borrow his own terminology his discrepant engagement ...


Michelle Habell-Pallán

Florida-born Nathaniel Mackey was raised in California, graduated from Princeton University with high honors, and earned a PhD in English and American literature in 1975. From 1976 to 1979 he was director of Black studies at the University of Southern California and assistant professor in both the English department and the ethnic studies program. He joined the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1979, where he is a professor of American literature.

Evidence of the Black diaspora echoes throughout his writings His poetry prose and essays situate African American poetry in diverse poetic and cultural traditions North American African Caribbean and to some extent Latin American He argues that these poetic traditions reciprocally influence each other The formal experimentation in his writing disrupts any notion that either African American poetry or poetry produced by either white or non white Americans is created in an ahistorical ...


Sarah Buckner

was born in Oakland, California and raised by her mother and stepfather, Janelle and Reginald Jones. She has one younger sister, Raquel, and two step-siblings, Nicole and Keith. Smith shared a particularly close-knit relationship with her younger sister whom she lived with for a good portion of her twenties and whose companionship helped inspire her first novel.

Smith’s love for writing sprouted early on. As a preteen she began to keep a regular journal and in the fifth grade she created The Fifth Grade Daily Arrow a single issue newspaper detailing the goings on of her neighborhood Rookie At ten years old Smith moved to East Los Angeles Although her first few years in Oakland were spent in relatively segregated neighborhoods her new community in East LA was rich in diversity In multiple interviews Smith has credited the multiculturalism of her neighborhood with shaping her thoughts about race and ...


Michael Collins

Alfred B. Spellman has cut a wide swath in the world of the arts as a music critic, poet, administrator, and educator. “It's a function of social consciousness,” he said in a 1992 interview (Dance/USA Journal, Winter 1992), “to provide art, strong art.” The creation, identification, and support of “strong art” have been the alternating currents of Spellman's career, whose highlights include the publication of his book of poems, The Beautiful Days, in 1965, the appearance of his classic Black Music: Four Lives (as Four Lives in the BeBop Business) in 1966, and his two decades of service at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

One of two sons of the schoolteachers Alfred and Rosa Bailey Spellman, Alfred B. Spellman was born 12 August 1935 in his grandmother s house in Nixonton a hamlet outside Elizabeth City North Carolina Perhaps ...


Christopher Harter

writer, poet, and educator, was born in the Republic of Panama, the son of Herbert Hamilton Thomas, a pharmacist and chemist, and Luzmilda (Gilling) Thomas, a community organizer. Thomas's family emigrated from Panama to New York City in 1948. Having spoken only Spanish until that time, Thomas was teased by other children for his poor English. The trauma of being derided for his lack of language skills led to Thomas's intense interest in learning to read and write English. He has cited his early attempts to master the language as the spark for his interest in poetry. In a 1981 interview, Thomas said, “I had to write the language down before talking” (Rowell, 19).

Thomas attended Queens College, where he earned his BA in 1967 He later did graduate study and worked as a librarian at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn While at ...


Jennifer H. Poulos

Lorenzo Thomas emerged from the Black Arts movement as one of the most prolific poets of the 1970s. Though best–known for his poetry, he also actively promotes the understanding and appreciation of all African American cultural forms, particularly music. Born in Panama to Herbert Hamilton Thomas and Luzmilda Gilling Thomas, Thomas immigrated to New York in 1948. As a native Spanish speaker, Thomas traces his interest in literature to his struggle to learn English in order to fit in with his schoolmates. While attending Queens College in the 1960s, Thomas joined the Umbra workshop, one of several experimental literary groups from which the Black Arts movement grew. Here, Thomas developed a poetic style marked by a wariness of the media and mass culture, pride in the African heritage and history, and a strong sense of political engagement. While Thomas also works powerfully in the lyric mode such ...