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Afaa Michael Weaver (Michael S. Weaver) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, where he graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute at the age of sixteen as a National Merit finalist. After two years at the University of Maryland, he entered fifteen years of factory work, during which time he wrote and published. During the Vietnam War, Professor Weaver served honorably in the 342nd Army Security Agency of the Army Reserves.
He ended that period of blue collar factory work in 1985, when he received an NEA fellowship in poetry. In that same year Professor Weaver entered Brown University's graduate writing program on a full university fellowship. While completing his M.A. at Brown, he also completed his B.A. in Literature in English at Excelsior College. Later Professor Weaver taught at Essex County College, Seton Hall Law School, New York University, Brooklyn College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College.
He came to Simmons in 1998, after receiving tenure with distinction at Rutgers University. At Simmons he is a tenured full professor and holds the Alumnae Endowed Chair, the first chair to be established at the college and one that is reserved for working writers.
In addition to the NEA, Professor Weaver has received several awards over the years, including the May Sarton Award (2010) , a Pushcart Prize (2008), a Pew fellowship (1998), a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship (1994), and a Fulbright appointment as a scholar (2002) at National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts.
He is the author of 11 books of poetry, a collection of essays which he edited, several essays and articles in various academic and trade publications, and short fiction. As a free lance journalist he has written for the Baltimore Sunpapers, the Baltimore Afro-American, the Philadelphia Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore City Paper, and the Philadelphia Sun. He has been the editor of Obsidian III at North Carolina State University, and the editor and founder of 7th Son Press in Baltimore.
At Brown Professor Weaver focused on playwriting and theatre. His master's thesis was a full length play entitled Rosa, which was produced professionally in 1993 at Venture Theater in Philadelphia. In that same year he won the PDI Award in playwriting from ETA Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of several other plays, including Berea, which has received two staged readings, one in Chicago and one in Philadelphia.
Dr. Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University has described Professor Weaver as "...one of the most significant poets writing today." Ed Ochester, professor emeritus at University of Pittsburgh has said Professor Weaver is "...the African American successor to Walt Whitman."
Professor Weaver studies Chinese on an ongoing basis, and in 2005 he tested successfully in the intermediate level of fluency in Speaking, Reading, and Writing at the Taipei Language Institute in Taipei, Taiwan. He has convened two international conferences on contemporary Chinese poetry at Simmons and, in that way, given the college an international presence in the world of Chinese poetry. In 2005 he was awarded a gold friendship medal from the Chinese Writers' Association in Beijing, China.
His twelfth collection of poetry, The Government of Nature, will be published early in 2013 by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Professor Weaver's papers are held in repository at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. The Academy of American Poets maintains this website for him: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/170
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths