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March 19, 2008 The Academy Offices From the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Afaa Michael Weaver was born Michael S. Weaver in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1951. The son of working class parents, he attended public schools and graduated as a National Merit finalist at the age of sixteen. After two years at the University of Maryland, he took a factory job alongside his father and uncles and remained a factory worker for fifteen years. During this period, he wrote and published poetry, short fiction, and freelance journalism; he also founded 7th Son Press and Blind Alleys, a literary journal.

Weaver’s first book of poetry, Water Song (Callaloo Journal), was published in 1985. Six months after signing the contract, he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and left the factory to attend Brown University’s graduate writing program on a full university fellowship. He received an MA in theater and playwriting at Brown, while simultaneously completing a BA in literature at Excelsior College.

Since Water Song, Weaver has published several additional collections of poetry, including City of Eternal Spring (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014); The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), for which he received the Kingsley Tufts Award; and The Ten Lights of God (Bucknell University Press, 2000). His full-length play Rosa was produced in 1993 at Venture Theater in Philadelphia. His short fiction appears in multiple anthologies, including Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1967 to the Present (Little, Brown, 1997), edited by Gloria Naylor.

Weaver took the name Afaa in 1997, after the death of his first child; the name, given to him by the Nigerian playwright Tess Onwueme, is an Ibo word meaning “oracle."

Weaver has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a 1995 fellowship from the Pennsylvania State Arts Council, a 1998 Pew Fellowship, and a 2002 Fulbright Scholar appointment to Taiwan, where he taught at the National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts. He teaches at Drew University in New Jersey and Simmons College in Massachusetts. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.


Selected Bibliography
City of Eternal Spring (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014)
The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013)
The Plum Flower Dance: Poems 1985 to 2005 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007)
Multitudes (Sarabande Books, 2000)
The Ten Lights of God (Bucknell University Press, 2000)
Water Song (Callaloo Journal, 1985)

My Father's Geography

I was parading the Côte d'Azur,
hopping the short trains from Nice to Cannes,
following the maze of streets in Monte Carlo
to the hill that overlooks the ville.
A woman fed me pâté in the afternoon,
calling from her stall to offer me more.
At breakfast I talked in French with an old man
about what he loved about America--the Kennedys.

On the beaches I walked and watched
topless women sunbathe and swim,
loving both home and being so far from it.

At a phone looking to Africa over the Mediterranean,
I called my father, and, missing me, he said,
"You almost home boy.  Go on cross that sea!"

From My Father's Geography by Michael S. Weaver, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 1992 Michael S. Weaver. Used with permission.

From My Father's Geography by Michael S. Weaver, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 1992 Michael S. Weaver. Used with permission.

Afaa Michael Weaver

Afaa Michael Weaver

Born in 1951, Afaa Michael Weaver is the author of several collections of poetry, including City of Eternal Spring (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014), and a full length play.

by this poet

poem
                in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary

In general population, census
is consensus—ain't nowhere to run
to in these walls, walls like a mind—
We visitors stand in a yellow circle
so the tower can frisk us with light,
finger the barrels on thirsty rifles.

I got rambling, rambling on my mind

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