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 ...
Brian P. Hochman
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 ...
Spellman, A. B.
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 ...
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 ...