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*Cherry Muhanji was born on this date in 1939. She is a Black poet and writer.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, she was born Jannette (Jenny) Washington. Muhanji's love has been with poetry since her childhood. At the age of fourteen, Muhanji was introduced to Edgar Allen Poe's poem, "The Bell," which triggered her desire to paint images and emotions through verse. Muhanji switched to writing prose in the 1980s because poetry made no money. Although Muhanji left poetry to write her book 'Her,' she did not completely abandon it, as the language used in her novel.
Muhanji's academic pursuits in English, Anthropology and African American World Studies were at the University of Iowa. Her publication, Tight Spaces, is a book of short stories co-authored with 2 other individuals. It was published in 1987 and won the Before Columbus American Book Award in 1988.
Much of Muhanji's life is veiled in Her, which took three years (from 1987-1990) to complete, was a version of Muhanji's life that she "wished would have happened. She completed her B.A. in 1990 and her PhD. in 1997, which culminated in a novel, written as her dissertation, entitled Mama Played First Chair.
Her other publication, Tight Spaces, is a book of short stories co-authored with two other individuals. It was published in 1987 and won the Before Columbus American Book Award in 1988. She is a lesbian educator and artist of the written word. She is a mother, grandmother (three sons and three grandsons), and Professor at Portland State University.
Voices From The Gaps
University of Minnesota
207 Lind Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55455