MacArthur Fellows Program

Ishmael Scott Reed

Poet and Writer | Class of 1998

Title
Poet and Writer
Location
Berekeley, California
Age
60 at time of award

Ishmael Reed is a literary innovator who writes in a variety of genres.

Reed’s fiction melds social realism with a sophisticated, nonlinear style. In his novels, he combines elements of standard English with less traditional language taken from popular culture and street life. His work challenges aspects of the Western European literary tradition and introduces a unique perspective to African-American literature. Reed's importance as a literary figure goes beyond his fiction to his roles as an essayist, poet, playwright, anthologist, and publisher. He is the author of nine novels, including The Free-Lance Pallbearers (1967), Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (1969), Mumbo Jumbo (1972), Flight To Canada (1976), Reckless Eyeballing (1986), and Japanese by Spring (1993). He has also published five volumes of poetry, six plays, and seven works of nonfiction, including Another Day at the Front: Dispatches from the Race War (2002) and Blues City: A Walk in Oakland (2003). He has also collaborated with various musicians and composers on several recordings and has edited several anthologies and essay collections.

For thirty-five years, Reed served as a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley (1971-2005). He has also taught creative writing at Harvard University, Yale University, and Dartmouth College.

Reed attended the State University of New York at Buffalo (1956-60).

Last updated January 1, 2006

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