Naomi Long Madgett

1923 –

Naomi Long Madgett was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on July 5, 1923. After spending her childhood in East Orange, New Jersey, Madgett moved with her family to St. Louis in 1937. She held a BA from Virginia State University and an MEd from Wayne State University.

Madgett is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, publishing her debut collection, Songs to a Phantom Nightingale (Fortuny’s Publishers, Incorporated, 1941), at the age of seventeen. Her other collections include Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems (Lotus Press, 2004); Remembrances of Spring: Collected Early Poems (Michigan State University Press, 1993); and Octavia and Other Poems (Third World Press, 1988).

Alongside her career as a poet, Madgett worked as an English teacher at Northwestern High School in Detroit, where she founded the school’s African American literature and creative writing courses. She was the poet laureate of Detroit from 2001 until her death on November 5, 2020.