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Wed, 02.22.1933

Ishmael Reed, Writer born

Ishmael Reed

*Ishmael Reed was born on this date in 1933. He is a Black writer.

When he was a child from Chattanooga, Tennessee, he and his family moved to Buffalo, New York, where Reed eventually attended the University of New York at Buffalo from 1956-1960.

His first novel, "The Free-Lance Pallbearers," was published in 1967. His publications have now grown to many highly acclaimed novels: "Yellow Back Radio Broke Down" (1969), "Mumbo Jumbo" (1972), "The Last Days of Louisiana Red" (1974), "Flight to Canada" (1976), "Japanese by Spring", "The Terrible Threes", "Reckless Eyeballing" and "The Terrible Twos" (1982); five volumes of poetry: "Conjure" (1972), "Chattanooga" (1973), "Catechism of D Neoamerican HooDoo Church" (1970), "A Secretary to the Spirits" (1978) and "New and Collected Poems."

Plays: "The Ace Boons" (1980), "Mother Hubbard" (formerly "Hell Hath No Fury") (1982), "Savage Wilds," and "Hubba City"; five edited anthologies: "19 Necromancers From Now" (1970), "Calafia" (1979), "The Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology," "The Before Columbus Foundation Poetry Anthology," and "Multi-America: Essays on Cultural War and Cultural Peace"; and finally, four collections of essays: "Shrovetide in Old New Orleans" (1978), "God Made Alaska for the Indians" (1982), "Writin' is Fightin'" and "Airing Dirty Laundry."

His output of individual articles and poems is too numerous to mention. Reed has been nominated twice for the National Book Award, once in poetry (Conjure) and once in fiction ("Mumbo Jumbo"), both in 1973. He presently lives in Oakland, California, and in addition to the demands of his writing and teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, he runs a publishing enterprise with Al Young and Steve Cannon, which principally publishes Reed and Young's "Quilt" volumes: volumes devoted to minority, West Coast, and student writers. "Quilt 3" was published in 1983.

As of 1995, Reed had published nine novels, five books of poems, and four collections of essays; he also had authored four plays, three television productions, and two librettos and edited four anthologies. His publishing and editing enterprises have included Reed, Cannon, and Johnson Publications, I. Reed Books, and the journals Yardbird Reader Y’Bird, Quilt, and Konch.  He is a total writer, creating poems, novels, essays, articles, and more.

To be a Writer



"Ishmael Reed Interview," Voices Tha Guide Us
African American Registry

"Ishmael Reed Interview," The New Fiction, Interviews with Innovative American Writers,
by John O'Brien, edited by David Bellamy, 130-41.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974.

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