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poet

Afaa Michael Weaver

1951- , Baltimore , MD , United States
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Afaa Michael Weaver
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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)

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Afaa Michael Weaver

Afaa Michael Weaver, P.O.P

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by this poet

poem

This wall is a great stairway, walls
are things that shoot up, keep out, line
the places where we mark the halls

that carry our names. The busts
of this one and that one, this history
is in the hard labor of hearts, thrusts

of piston and valve. I sit down
at the first house,

poem

Can we just stay here in the space where our loud laughing
won’t disturb the mausoleum of St. Peter, three times denying
the purple iris, can we hobble the horses to the hitching post
in front of the post office and let everything fall out of where
we put it to be delivered, can we call the

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poem
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
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