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Library Exhibition on Ishmael Reed

    The University of Delaware Library announces “Ishmael Reed:  An Exhibition” which will be on display in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery in the Morris Library of the University of Delaware from August 16, 2007 through December 16, 2007.  The exhibition celebrates the seventieth birthday (February 22, 2008) of the distinguished American author Ishmael Reed.  The curator of the exhibition is Timothy Murray, Head of the Special Collections Department.

    The University of Delaware Library is the official repository for the papers of Ishmael Reed and the exhibition will include books, original manuscripts, photographs, artwork, and other materials drawn from the extensive collection of the author’s books and literary papers in Special Collections.

    Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ishmael Reed grew up in Buffalo, New York and studied at the University of Buffalo.  In the early 1960s he moved to New York City and was involved in a variety of literary and journalism projects.  Reed served as an editor for the Newark, New Jersey weekly, Advance, and in 1965 he co-founded the EastVillage Other, an underground newspaper which was the first alternative paper to be sold nationally, and that same year organized the American Festival of Negro Art.  Ishmael Reed was active in the Umbra Workshop and was instrumental in setting up the influential St. Mark’s Project where in 1966 he ran its first fiction workshop.

    Ishmael Reed’s first novel, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, was published in 1967 and was followed two years later by Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (1969).  With the publication of Mumbo Jumbo (1972), Reed’s place as one of the most innovative contemporary novelists was secured.

    Ishmael Reed is also an accomplished poet, short story writer, and essayist and has had more than thirty books published.  Ishmael Reed has also been active as a publisher and editor and co-founded Yardbird Publications, Reed, Cannon and Johnson Communications, and together with a group of multiethnic writers launched the Before Columbus Foundation which had the goal of forming an American literature that went beyond European models.  He has edited numerous magazines and anthologies including Y’Bird, the Yardbird Reader, Quilt, and the internet-published Konch, to name several.

    Ishmael Reed has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was twice nominated for the National Book Award.  He has received numerous honors, fellowships, and prizes, including the Lewis H. Michaux Literary Prize, awarded to him in 1978 by the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Richard and Hilda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1975. In 1998, Ismael Reed was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius" fellowship. He has also received the Pushcart Prize, the Otto Award for Political Theatre, and the California Book Award's Gold Medal in Poetry.

    Ishmael Reed has also had a distinguished career as an educator, serving as Senior Lecturer for more than thirty years at the University of California, Berkeley, and currently is an emeritus faculty member at Berkeley.

    For more information about the Ishmael Reed papers call 302-831-2229, or consult the Special Collections Web at [www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec].  An online version of “Ishmael Reed: An Exhibition” will be on view in late summer/early fall 2007 via [www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec]. 

    An exhibition program with remarks by Ishmael Reed will be held on Wednesday, October 24, 2007, at 4:30 p.m. in the Reserve Room of the Morris Library.  A reception will follow. The co-sponsors of the Ishmael Reed visit are:  the College of Arts & Sciences, the Black American Studies Program, the English Department, the Faculty Senate Committee on Cultural Activities and Public Events, the Office of the Provost, the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Delaware Library Associates, and the University of Delaware Library.  Further information about Mr. Reed’s visit will be forthcoming.


About the Special Collections Department

            Holdings of the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library include books, manuscripts, maps, prints, photographs, broadsides, periodicals, pamphlets, ephemera, and realia from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. The collections complement the Library's general collections with particular strengths in the subject areas of the arts; English, Irish, and American literature; history and Delawareana; horticulture; and history of science and technology. The University of Delaware Archives are separately administered and comprises university records and history of the institution.

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