Semaj Brown

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Poet Laureate of Flint, Michigan, 2019-

Semaj Brown was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960. A poet, author, playwright, and educator, she holds a BA in Biological Science from Wayne State University and is the daughter of classically trained pianist Bessie James. 

Brown is the author of Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light (Broadside Lotus Press/Health Collectors LLC, 2019). Of her work, poet Jaki Shelton Green says, “The themes of ancient metrics, Middle Passage resistance, Black body representation, the tapestry of marginalized mapmakers, shape-shifters, musicians becoming magicians, and a testament of Black love are served to us with reverence and purpose.”

An educator in Detroit public schools for sixteen years, Brown was responsible for creating integrated science curricula locally and nationally. She then developed community workshops and health initiatives for the Flint community. Her epic poem “Mother Ocean: The Making of a New Tribe” was inspired by Jerry Taliaferro's 2017 photographic installation at the Flint Institute of Arts and presented at the FIA Tenth Annual Community Gala. She was named the first poet laureate of Flint, Michigan, in 2019. In 2021, Brown received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.