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Wed, 07.01.1953

Harryette Mullen, Writer born

Harryette Mullen

*Harryette Mullen was born on this date in 1953.  She is a Black writer and professor.

Born in Florence, Alabama, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the daughter of teachers, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Baptist ministers from the segregated south.  She has earned degrees in English and Literature from the University of Texas, Austin, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Early in her poetry career, she worked in the “Artists in Schools” program sponsored by the Texas Commission on the Arts. For six years, she taught African American and other U.S. ethnic literature at Cornell University.

Her books of poetry include Muse & Drudge (Singing Horse, 1995), S*PeRM**K*T (1992), Trimmings (1991), and Tree Tall Woman (1981). Poetry by Mullen has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Arras, Big Allis, Black Renaissance, Bombay Gin, Chain, Epoch, Furniture's, Hambone, Hole, La Jornada Semanal, Long News in the Short Century, Parnassus, Proliferation, Prosodia, Voice Literary Supplement, and The World.

Her poems and short fiction have also been included in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (ed. Mary Margaret Sloan, 1998); Trouble the Water: 250 Years of African American Poetry (ed. Jerry Ward, 1997); African American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology (1996); Ecstatic Occasions. Expedient Forms (1996); In Search of Color Everywhere (1994); The Jazz Poetry Anthology (1991); O#2 Anthology (1991); and elementary and secondary school textbooks, including a new edition of Reflections on A Gift of Watermelon Pickle, (1995), and more.

Mullen has been honored with an artist grant from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry, and a Rockefeller Fellowship from the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Women's Studies at the University of Rochester. Her poetry collection, Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002), was a finalist for a National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She received a PEN Beyond Margins Award for her Recyclopedia (2006). She is also credited for rediscovering the novel Oreo, published in 1974 by Fran Ross.  Mullen won the fourth annual Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers in 2010.

She appeared in the documentary film, The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante, Jr. and narrated by Maya Angelou.  Harryette Mullen teaches African American literature and creative writing at the University of California, Los Angeles English Department.

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