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Ishmael Reed

Poet, essayist, playwright and novelist

Ishmael Reed (Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1938) is a key figure in the history of Afro-American culture. Initially influenced by the beat and Harlem Renaissance poets, his free, rhythmic prose and his beautiful jazz delirium have made him one of the authors who have best managed to explain the ancestral myths of black history with the most avant-garde proposals. His importance in counterculture is essential in all of his facets. In the New York of 1962, he was co-founder of East Village Other, one of the leading underground publications of the sixties. An untiring columnist and essayist in specialist publications and in newspapers such as The New York Times, he has written both about Obama and hip-hop and jazz. Musicians such as Taj Mahal, Bobby Womack, Albert Ayler, Mary Wilson and even The Roots have used his lyrics on their discs. He has made his debut as a jazz musician with his own quintet. In addition to his roles as a lecturer at the University of California and as a poet, here we discover his talents as a novelist, with titles like Mumbo Jumbo (2016), hailed by Harold Bloom as one of the five hundred greatest books of the Western canon and, more recently, Flight to Canada (1996, published in Spanish in 2018).

Bio written by Miqui Otero, co-director of CCCB's Primera Persona festival.

Update: 3 April 2018


Has participated in

Primera Persona 2018

Autobiographic live sessions: stand-up comedy, pop music, theatre and narrative