Anthony Walton was born in Aurora, Illinois, in 1960 and was raised in Aurora and Batavia, Illinois. Walton’s parents migrated to Illinois from Mississippi. His father was born on a cotton plantation near Holly Springs, Mississippi. Walton earned a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MFA from Brown University in 1987. For a time, he studied poetry with Gwendolyn Brooks.
Walton settled in New York in the 1980s. He became known after publishing the personal essay “Willie Horton and Me” in a 1989 issue of The New York Times Magazine. Walton has published one volume of poetry, Cricket Weather (Blackberry Books, 1995). He has also written two works of nonfiction—Brothers In Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes (Broadway Books, 2004), a historical work cowritten with Kareem Abdul-Jabar and the winner of the 1998 Whiting Award for Nonfiction, as well as the memoir and travelogue Mississippi: An American Journey (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996). Walton also coedited Every Shut Eye Ain’t Sleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945 (Little, Brown, 1994) and The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (Vintage Books, 2000), both with Michael S. Harper.
Walton is senior writer-in-residence at Bowdoin College and lives in Brunswick, Maine.