Elizabeth Alexander is a leading American poet whose work has been inspired by a wide range of influence, from history, literature, art and music to the 'rich infinity' of the African-American experience. Her's is a vital and vivid poetic voice on race, gender, politics and motherhood. "American Blue" is her first British publication. Many of her poems bring history alive and singing into the present in highly musical, sharply contemporary narratives, which use many different forms and voices to cover subjects ranging from slave rebellions, the Civil Rights movement, Muhammed Ali and Toni Morrison to the lives of jazz musicians and the 'Venus Hottentot', a 19th-century African woman exhibited at carnivals. 'Alexander has an instinct for turning her profound cultural vision into one that illuminates universal experience.' - Clarence Major. 'In narratives sweetened by the lyric pulse and pierced through by felicitous turns of irony, Alexander chronicles the world of "black and tan". Her poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh.
Race is present in her poems in the way that sex, class, age, even weather are present in all of our lives' - Rita Dove, "Washington Post." 'Alexander is an unusual thing, a sensualist of history, a romanticist of race. She weaves biography, history, experience, pop culture and dream. Her poems make the public and private dance together' - "Chicago Tribune." 'Alexander uses exquisite care and delicacy to explore turbulent times and feelings, Bravo!' - "Ntozake Shange." 'Alexander explores tensions inherent in gender and race and expresses the ambivalence of motherhood in jazz-inflected tones' - "Elle".
Elizabeth Alexander was born in New York City and grew up in Washington, DC. She is a poet, essayist, playwright, teacher and scholar of African-American literature and culture, and has given readings and lectures on African-American literature and culture in many countries. She has published four collections in the States: The Venus Hottentot (1990), Body of Life (1996), Antebellum Dream Book (2001) and American Sublime (2005), as well as a collection of essays on African American artistic life through literature, painting, film and popular media, The Black Interior (2004). She is a professor at Yale University and lives in New Haven.
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