April 3rd: Afaa Michael Weaver Features

Photo by Bill Perrault

Stone Soup Poetry meets from 8-10 p.m. every Monday at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery at 106 Prospect Street with an open mike sign-up at 7:30 p.m. On April 3rd, featuring at the venue for the first time and beginning Stone Soup Poetry's celebration of National Poetry Month will be poet, playwright and Pulitzer nominee Afaa Michael Weaver.

In 1951, Afaa Michael Weaver was born Michael S. Weaver to working class parents in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from the Baltimore public schools in 1968 at sixteen as a National Merit Scholar and began studying at the University of Maryland. In 1970 he began a fifteen year career as a factory worker and also served as an army reservist.

In 1997 Tess Onwueme of the University of Wisconsin gave him the Ibo name "Afaa," and in 2002 Dr. Perng Chingsi of National Taiwan University gave him the name Wei Yafeng.

While a factory worker he wrote and published poetry, short fiction, and free lance journalism and founded 7th Son Press. Under 7th Son he published the journal Blind Alleys, which featured Andrei Codrescu, Frank Marshall Davis, Lucille Clifton, Nikky Finney, and other poets and writers. As a free lancer he has written for the Baltimore Sunpapers, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Afro-American.

In 1983 Weaver enrolled in Excelsior College, and in 1985 he received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Immediately upon receiving the NEA fellowship he retired from factory life to enter Brown University's graduate creative writing program on a full university fellowship. In that same year his first book, Water Song, was published by Callaloo Press at the University of Virginia. He received his B.A. from Excelsior in 1986 and in 1987 he received his M.A. (M.F.A.) from Brown. At Brown he studied poetry with Keith Waldrop, C.D. Wright, and Michael S. Harper. His focus was in playwriting and theater, and for those concentrations he studied with the late George H. Bass and Paula Vogel.

In 1985 Weaver was commissioned to write a poem in honor of Roy DeCarava. The poem entitled "The Dancing Veil" was presented to DeCarava at the annual conference of the Society for Photographic Education on March 20-23, 1986 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem was subsequently published in Hanging Loose.

He began his teaching career as an adjunct in 1987, teaching at New York University, the City University of New York, Seton Hall Law School, and Essex County College. In 1990, he began at Rutgers Camden and received tenure with distinction there as an early candidate. In 1998, he took a full time position at Simmons College as the Alumnae Professor of English

In that same year he was named a Pew fellow in poetry.

Weaver was a member of the faculty of Cave Canem in 1997, and he was later given the honor of being the organization's Elder.

In the spring semester of 1997,he was named the sixteenth poet-in-residence at the Stadler Poetry Center of Bucknell University. He was the first poet of African descent to hold that position.

Between 1985 to 2005, he published nine collections of poetry, had two professional theater productions, published short fiction in journals and anthologies, and served as editor of Obsidian III, based at North Carolina State University. His short fiction appears in Gloria Naylor's Children of the Night, the sequel to Langston Hughes' anthology, Best Short Stories by Negro Writers. He has given several hundred readings in the U.S., Great Britain, France, China, and Taiwan.

The following bio was obtained from the author's web site. More information and links can be found by clicking here.

Click here for a sample of the author's work.