devorah major

devorah major

devorah major, San Francisco’s third Poet Laureate is an award-winning poet and fiction writer, a creative non-fiction writer, performer, editor, and part-time senior adjunct professor at California College of the Arts. She was poet-in-residence of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for 28 years.  She has toured internationally in places such as Italy, Bosnia, Jamaica, Venezuela, Belgium, England and Wales, as well as throughout the United States both performing her poetry and serving on panels speaking on African American poetry, Beat Poetry, and poetry of resistance. She has two novels and seven books of poetry published.  

In 2021 four of her essays were featured in the DeYoung Museum’s 125 Years retrospective catalogue published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Her first novel, An Open Weave, was awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, was released by Seal Press and later sold to Women’s Press in London and resold as a trade paperback to Signature Press. Curbstone Press released her second novel (which includes poetry), Brown Glass Windows to critical acclaim City Lights Publishing released another book of ms. major’s poetry, where river meets ocean. and Creative Arts Books, Inc. released her third solo book of poetry, with more than tongue.  In 2019 her first international collection of poetry A Braccia Aperte (with open arms) in Italy and in 2020 califia’s daughter a Willow Books Editor’s Choice Award winner.

She is the recipient of a 2002 California Arts Council Spoken Word Literary Arts Fellowship. For over twenty years she has been a part of Daughters of Yam (a poetry performance group with Opal Palmer Adisa) which has released one book, two chapbooks, one poetry and jazz cassette and one poetry and jazz CD.  Ms. Major’s poems and short stories, and essays have been published in a number of anthologies  including: Stories for Chip, So Long Been Dreaming : Post-Colonial Science Fiction, Mojo: Conjurer Tales , Drum Voices Review, So Much Thing to Say, Heartspeak, Saints of Hysteria, 100 Poets Against the War , So Luminous the Wildflowers, Rites of Passage, Black Silk , Bum Rush the Page: Def Poetry Jam , Girls Like Us , Father Songs ,Streetlights: Urban Stories of the Black Experience , Thoughts to Savor , I Hear A Symphony , Poetry Like Bread , and many magazines  and journals including “The New Progressive”, “Caribbean Writer,” “Left Curve,” “Essence,” “River Styx”, “Black Scholar”, “Callaloo”, “Obsidian”, “Paterson Literary Review”, and “Zyzzyva,” She has received Pushcart recognition for her short story/poem, “A Crowded Table”. She was also a CAC Writing Fellowship in 1989.  She has also written two  “Start to Finish” history books for young people:  Rosa Parks: Freedom Fighter and Frederick Douglas: A Hero for All Times (1999)   She has edited and written introductions for six student poetry anthologies produced by the Fine Arts Museums Poets in the Galleries program.

In 2004 Ms. major was given a commission by the Oakland East Bay Symphony to collaborate with composer Guillermo Galindo to create and perform in Trade Route, a symphony with spoken word and chorus, that premiered in 2005.

In addition to teaching at CCA, ms, major has taught at New College and lectured at San Jose State, Humboldt College, San Francisco State College, Stanford University, and San Mateo, San Jose, and San Francisco City Colleges.  She has also taught poetry performance workshops at Laney College. She currently also teaches with the Osher Life-Long Learning Institute (OLLI) out of U.C. Berkeley.

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