I read a poem and critique by Reed around 1967. That was the first time I knew of the name Ishmael Reed. There was mention of his West Indian origins and critiques said his writing was like gumbo. The poem or poems that read reflect the Caribbean in style. I was aware that Reed had been hired at University of California in the English Department by 1974. I was working in African American Studies teaching one class during winter quarters. I would see him on Telegraph Avenue from time to time and he always spoke. If he was busy talking to someone he always gave eye contact and a nod of the head. Over the years he would show up around the lake both of us in a hurry going somewhere, but never too busy to speak. One day we may actual stop and talk. Claude Lockhart Clark © 08/17/11
Ishmael Reed, together with Toni Morrison, is one of today’s pre-eminent African American literary figures–perhaps the most widely reviewed since Ralph Ellison, and, along with Samuel Delany and Amiri Baraka, probably the most controversial.
-Ishmael Reed began writing his own jazz column for Empire State, a weekly African American newspaper in Buffalo, NY
Post Open in 192. Since the publication of his first novel, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, in 1967, Reed has thus far produced seven novels, four books of poetry, two collections of essays, numerous reviews and critical articles, and has edited two major anthologies. Reed’s literary style is best known for its use of parody and satire in attempts to create new myths and to challenge the formal conventions of literary tradition. Reed’s works have alternately been criticized as incoherent, muddled, and abstruse, and hailed as multicultural, revolutionary, vivid, and containing a deep awareness of mythic archetypes.
Born 1938 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ishmael Reed grew up in working class neighborhoods in Buffalo, New York. He attended Buffalo public schools and the University of Buffalo. He moved to New York City,where he cofounded the East Village Other (1965), an underground newspaper that achieved a national reputation. Also that year he organized the American Festival of Negro Art. As well as being a novelist, poet, and essayist, he is a songwriter, television producer, publisher, magazine editor, playwright, and founder of the Before Columbus Foundation and There City Cinema, both of which are located in northern California. He has taught at Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth, and for twenty years he has been a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, He lives in Oakland, California.