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Al Young


Poet and novelist Al Young was born on May 31, 1939, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He attended the University of Michigan and received his BA from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969.

His volumes of poetry include Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2008); Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006 (Angel City Press, 2006); The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000 (Creative Arts Book Company, 2001); Heaven: Collected Poems, 1956-90 (1992), The Blues Don't Change: New and Selected Poems (1982), Geography of the Near Past (1976), Some Recent Fiction (1974), The Song Turning Back into Itself (1971), and Dancing: Poems (1969), which won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award.

He is the author of the novels Seduction by Light (1988), Ask Me Now (1980), Sitting Pretty (1976), Who Is Angelina? (1975), and Snakes: A Novel (1970). His memoirs include Drowning in the Sea of Love: Musical Memoirs (1995), Mingus-Mingus: Two Memoirs (1991, with Janet Coleman) Kind of Blue: Musical Memoirs (1984) and Bodies and Soul: Musical Memoirs (1981), which won the American Book Award.

Young has also served as the editor of a number of books, including African American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology (1995), and Yardbird Lives! (1978, with Ishmael Reed). His work has been widely anthologized and translated into many languages.

In the 1970s and eighties, Young co-founded the journals the Yardbird Reader and Quilt with poet-novelist Ishmael Reed. Among Young's numerous honors and awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, and a Fulbright Fellowship. Al Young has lectured in creative writing at a number of colleges and universities. In 2005, he was appointed the Poet Laureate of California.

He lives in Massachusetts and works with The Boston Globe.

Al Young
Photo credit: Jos Robinson

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