Angela Jackson, poet, playwright and fictionist was born July 25, 1951 in Greenville, Mississippi. Her father, George Jackson, Sr. and mother, Angeline Robinson Jackson moved to Chicago where Jackson attended St. Anne's Catholic School. Fascinated with books, Jackson frequented the Kelly Branch Library and admired Chicago's Gwendolyn Brooks. She graduated from Loretto Academy in 1968 with a scholarship to Northwestern University. In 1977, Jackson received her B.A. degree from Northwestern University and went on to earn her M.A. degree from the University of Chicago.
At Northwestern University, Jackson joined FMO, the black student union. Influenced by artist Jeff Donaldson and visiting poet Margaret Walker, she was invited by Johnson Publishing's Black World magazine editor, Hoyt W. Fuller, to join the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC), where she stayed as a member for twenty years. At OBAC, Fuller mentored young black writers like Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), Carolyn Rodgers, Sterling Plumpp and others. Jackson was praised as a reader and performer on Chicago's burgeoning black literary scene.
First published nationally in Black World in 1971, Jackson's first book of poetry, Voodoo Love Magic was published by Third World Press in 1974. She won the eighth Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Award in 1973; the Academy of American Poets Award from Northwestern University in 1974; the Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1979; a National Endowment For the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1980; the Hoyt W. Fuller Award for Literary Excellence in 1984; the American Book Award in 1985; the DuSable Museum Writers Seminar Poetry Prize in 1984; Pushcart Prize for Poetry in 1989; ETA Gala Award in 1994; Illinois Authors Literary Heritage Award in 1996; six Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards; five for fiction and one for poetry; The Carl Sandburg Award; Chicago Sun-Times Friends of Literature Book of the Year Award; an Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Playwriting in 2000; and in 2002, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America.
Jackson's other poetic works include: The Greenville Club, 1977 (chapbook); Solo in the Boxcar Third Floor E, 1985; The Man with the White Liver, 1987; Dark Legs and Silk Kisses: The Beatitudes of the Spinners, 1993; and All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems New and Selected, 1997, which was nominated for the National Book Award. Her plays include Witness!, 1970; Shango Diaspora: An African American Myth of Womanhood and Love, 1980; and When the Wind Blows, 1984 (better known as the eta production entitled, Comfort Stew). Where I Must Go (2009) is her first novel.
Jackson is also very well known for her involvement in Chicago's Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC). The influence of this organization has had a great effect on Jackson's writing. Its main goal was to advance "the conscious development and articulation of Black Aesthetic." Members are encouraged to express in words the "Black Experience" and also pay attention to and focus on the works of other African American authors.
Jackson was appointed as the Poet Laureate of Illinois in 2020. In 2021, she received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. Currently, Jackson lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.
Poems - 10 in all
The Gulf of Blues
Miz Rosa Rides the Bus
Angela Jackson - 2 ~ New ~
Mules and Women
The Love of Travelers
More Than Meat and Raiment
Woman Watches Ocean on a Reef through a Glass-Bottomed Boat