Berkeley Emeriti Times, April 13, 2020

April 13, 2020


Congratulations to Professor Emeritus Ishmael Reed our UC Berkeley Emeritus of the Year Awardee for 2020. This award denotes exceptional accomplishment since retirement. Following Professor Reed’s retirement in 2005 from the Department of English, he has continued his prolific publication of poetry, prose (fiction, essays, biography and more) and plays. His iconic work has been translated into more than eleven other languages. He illuminates the corners and edges of society, giving voices to and for the marginalized and oppressed using “surrealism, satire and political and racial commentary” (as described by the Encyclopedia Brittanica). He continues to be a songwriter and an accomplished jazz pianist with his own performing quintet. One of his many awards and honors since retirement was serving as the first SF Jazz Poet Laureate from SF JAZZ (2012-2016), and his poem “When I Die I will Go to Jazz” is installed on SF JAZZ Center’s North Gate entrance. He has influenced many contemporary writers, musicians and thespians even since his retirement. His latest poetry collection, “Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues: Poems 2007-2019” has just been published. His fifteen years of retirement have been a veritable full additional series of careers, and he keeps us out-of-breath as we follow his spectacular trajectory.

A reception in his honor will scheduled later this summer to be held in the fall at the Women’s Faculty Club. Please join us in celebrating Professor Reed’s remarkable achievements!

By Professor Emerita Caroline Kane, UCBEA Awards Chair
Photo by Michael Avedon