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Wed, 05.30.1962

Elizabeth Alexander, one of Harlem’s best

Elizabeth Alexander

*The birth of Elizabeth Alexander in 1962 is celebrated on this date. She is an African American writer, and educator.

From Harlem, New York, she grew up in Washington, DC. Alexander received a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. from Boston University (where she studied with Derek Walcott), and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Alexander's collections of poetry include Antebellum Dream Book (Graywolf Press, 2001), Body of Life (1996), and The Venus Hottentot (1990).  Her poems, short stories, and critical writing have been widely published in such journals and periodicals as The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, The Village Voice, The Women's Review of Books, and The Washington Post, and her work is anthologized in over twenty collections.

In 1996, her verse play, Diva Studies, premiered at the Yale School of Drama. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Chicago, and the George Kent Award, given by Gwendolyn Brooks. As an educator, Alexander has taught at Haverford College, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Smith College, where she was Grace Hazard Conkling Poet-in-Residence and first director of the Poetry Center at Smith College. She has travelled extensively within the U.S. and abroad, giving poetry readings and lecturing on African American literature and culture.

In the summers, she is a faculty member at Cave Canem Poetry Workshop. She is presently a fellow at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. In January 2009, Alexander was featured reading a poem she wrote for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

Reference:
The Academy of American Poets,
584 Broadway, Suite 604,
New York, NY 10012-5243

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