Professor Emeritus Ishmael Scott Reed (Dept of English) inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Ishmael Reed with bookshelf in background
September 12, 2022

Ishmael Reed has written over 30 books of poetry, prose, essays, and plays. He is also an editor of anthologies and magazines, a publisher, television producer, public media commentator, cartoonist, teacher and lecturer. Reed has penned lyrics for musicians ranging from Taj Mahal to Macy Gray. Reed has been the recipient of a MacArthur Grant, has been a Pulitzer finalist, and he has been nominated twice for the National Book Award. Most recently he was named the University of California at Berkeley’s Emeritus Professor Awardee of the Year 2020 and honored with the Anisfield-Wolf 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.

His works include the novel Mumbo Jumbo, to be celebrated in a 50th anniversary edition from Scribner’s in 2022, as well as non-fiction, plays and poetry. His other novels include: The Freelance Pallbearers; Yellow Back Radio Broke Down; Flight To Canada; The Last Days Of Louisiana Red; Reckless Eyeballing; The Terrible Twos; The Terrible Threes; Japanese By Spring; Juice!; and Conjugating Hindi. His most recent poetry collection is Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues: Poems 2007-2020, (Dalkey Archive Press, 2020); his most recent essay collection is Why No Confederate Statues in Mexico, (Baraka Books, 2019). His ninth play, The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda, premiered at the Nuyorican Poets’ Café in 2019 and was published by Archway Editions in 2020; his tenth play, The Slave Who Loved Caviar, was premiered in December 2021. 

In addition to his own prolific writing, he champions the work of other writers as an editor and publisher. His current publishing imprint, Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, has issued anthologies, poetry books, novels, and memoirs.

Reed founded the Before Columbus Foundation that annually presents its American Book Awards, and PEN Oakland which issues the Josephine Miles literary awards. The New York Times called PEN Oakland “The Blue Collar Pen.”

American Academy of Arts & Sciences