Mr. Afaa M. Weaver was recognized with the 57th Distinguished Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation of Boston in 2019.
PLEASANT VALLEY, NY, October 09, 2019 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Afaa M. Weaver with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Mr. Weaver celebrates many years of experience in his professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
An acclaimed poet, playwright, translator, editor, and educator, Afaa M. Weaver, formerly known as Michael S. Weaver, has become renowned for his incredible written works, which articulate the structures of working class culture, his experiences with nature and landscapes, and his strong spiritual theme. The son of a steelworker and a part-time beautician, he was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1951. Mr. Weaver embarked upon his professional path at the age of 16, pursuing an education in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.
While attending the University of Maryland, Mr. Weaver was encouraged by his composition teacher to embrace his natural talent as a writer. He changed his major to Sociology, and upon reflection, he returned to Baltimore in 1970 and began working in local factories. Over the course of the next 15 years, he focused his spare time on his poetry, studying his craft, and eventually publishing and working as a freelance journalist. As a practitioner of Taijiquan and Daoism, he found a strategy for unifying his energy and focusing his spiritual path. Mr. Weaver completed service in the United States Army Reserve from 1970 to 1973, and received an honorable discharge. His lifelong interest in the art of playwriting began when he saw the play, "What the Wine-Sellers Buy" by Ron Milner, with whom he would collaborate in later years.
In 1985, Mr. Weaver's life took an extraordinary turn, when he received a fellowship for poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, which allowed him to leave the factory. Later that spring he was accepted in the graduate Creative Writing program at Brown University, where he was given a full graduate fellowship for the first year. Having founded 7th Son Press and his own literary journal, Blind Alleys, while working in the factory, the University of Virginia published his first book "Water Song," in the Callaloo poetry series. Additionally, Mr. Weaver enrolled in the University of the State of New York, now Excelsior College, while in the factory. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Literature in English in 1986, while doing his graduate work at Brown.
When he graduated from Brown, Mr. Weaver began his teaching career at Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey, as an adjunct professor from 1987 to 1988. He concluded his studies at Brown University in 1987, graduating with a Master of Arts. Between 1988 and 1990, Mr. Weaver further established himself in academia as a writing specialist at the Seton Hall University School of Law, an adjunct professor at New York University and a lecturer in English with the City University of New York.
Mr. Weaver's creative side continued to blossom throughout the 1990s, His first professional theater production was "Rosa," which was produced in 1993 in Philadelphia at Venture Theater. Later that year his play "Elvira and the Lost Prince" was produced in Chicago at ETA Theater, where it received the PDI Award. In poetry, he published four books "My Father's Geography" in 1992, "Stations in a Dream" in 1993, "Timber and Prayer" in 1995, and "Talisman" in 1998. His play "Bevea" was given a staged reading in Philadelphia in 1998. Moreover, he received a fellowship from the Pew Foundation in 1998, and in that same year became the first Elder of the Cave Canem Foundation after teaching for the organization in 1997, its second year. From 1992 to 1997, he was remarkably appointed as a panel member for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Likewise, Mr. Weaver excelled as an associate professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, from 1990 to 1998. In 1995, he received tenure with distinction at Rutgers.
In 1997, he accepted the position as editor of Obsidian literary magazine, a journal devoted to original works by African American poets, fiction and prose writers, and playwrights. At the time, the journal was located at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
In 1998, Mr. Weaver left Rutgers to accept the Alumnae Endowed Chair and full professorship with tenure at Simmons University. In that same time, his poetry revealed fuller memories of childhood. His book "Talisman" led him to this awakening. After publishing three older manuscripts of his work in 2000, such as "The Ten Lights of God," "Sandy Point" and "Multitudes: Poems, Selected and New," Mr. Weaver became a Fulbright scholar in 2002, which he utilized to teach in Taiwan at the National Taiwan University and the Taipei National University of the Arts. With the Fulbright he turned his attention to studying Mandarin, eventually completing the intermediate curriculum in speaking, reading, and writing at the Taipei Language Institute in Taipei, where he lived from 2004-2005, his sabbatical year. He worked to continue his Fulbright mission by working as a translator of contemporary Chinese poetry, and conveying two conferences of poets from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, at Simmons University, the only such gatherings of that organizational type ever held in the United States, an accomplishment for which he received a letter of congratulations from the office of Condoleezza Rice. He also received the Gold Friendship Medal from the Chinese Writers Association in Beijing.
In 2005, he released "The Plum Flower Dance," a compendium canvassing his 20 years of work and addressed his trauma publicly, in 2007, which garnered him the 2008 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. It was the first book in his Plum Flower trilogy. The second book was "The Government of Nature" published in 2013, which won the Kingsley Tufts Award, and "City of Eternal Spring" published in 2015 completed the trilogy. It also earned him the Phyllis Wheatley Book Award from the Harlem Book Fair. "Spirit Boxing" appeared in 2017, just as he received a Guggenheim and retired from Simmons University, where he had also established and maintained the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center.
Mr. Weaver had his portrait installed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016, and was recognized with the 57th Distinguished Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation of Boston in 2019. He is the seventh poet to receive the award which is given in a different field each year. Conrad Aiken, Elizabeth Bishop and Howard Nemerov are three of the poets who preceded him as winners of the St. Botolph.
Mr. Weaver's poetry has been translated into Chinese and Arabic. Dr. Ching-hsi Perng was the first to translate his poetry into Chinese during the time Mr. Weaver was a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan. "Like the Wind" is a collection of his work translated into Arabic by Wissal Al Allaq. It was published in 2009, as part of a projects based in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Weaver has been a member of the core faculty for Drew University's Master of Fine Arts in poetry and translation program. Now in his retirement from full time teaching, he has accepted an invitation from Sarah Lawrence College to teach on a part time basis. In addition to these roles, he is a member of the board for The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire. He is also a supporter of Red Hen Press as a board member. Mr. Weaver remains affiliated with various organizations in relation to his areas of expertise, including the Academy of American Poets, the Dramatists Guild of America and the Poetry Society of America.
Having overcome many tragedies and obstacles, Mr. Weaver is grateful for the opportunity to share his story, voice, and point-of-view through fifteen collections of poetry and two professional theater productions. Inspired by the likes of poet Jacob Lawrence, artist Marc Chagall, and jazz musician Duke Ellington, among others, he fondly recalls witnessing his former students reach their own success. Notably, Mr. Weaver has been profiled in multiple publications, including The Huffington Post in 2015. In an article in the Taipei Times dated July 8, 2007, Ed Ochester, Mr. Weaver's longtime editor at the University of Pittsburgh Press, described Mr. Weaver as, "…the African American successor to Walt Whitman."
In light of his exceptional undertakings, Mr. Weaver has secured four Pushcart Prizes. From the early promise he showed in high school as a National Merit Scholarship finalist, his accomplishments have led to being selected for inclusion in the 17th edition of Who's Who in the World. Looking toward the future, Mr. Weaver hopes to continue expanding his mind and his portfolio of poems while cementing his legacy as both an esteemed writer and an inspiring figure in the African-American and American communities. His papers are housed in the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.
In recognition of outstanding contributions to his profession and the Marquis Who's Who community, Afaa Weaver has been featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website. Please visit www.ltachievers.com for more information about this honor.
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