A native of Greenville, Angela Jackson is a writer of poetry, fiction, and drama. She is the fifth of nine children born to George Jackson Sr. and Angeline Robinson Jackson. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Jackson later earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. Although she entered Northwestern on a premedical scholarship, two visiting professors, Margaret Walker and Hoyt William Fuller, influenced her in the direction of literature. She also holds a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean studies from the University of Chicago.
Jackson is best known for poetry that draws on modernist techniques, folklore, and myth to explore issues of identity and gender. Her poetry collections include VooDoo/Love Magic, The Greenville Club, Solo in the Boxcar Third Floor E, The Man with the White Liver, Dark Legs and Silk Kisses, And All These Roads Be Luminous, and Warm Earth. Jackson uses symbols such as spiders, roots, and rituals and relies on the empirical to construct biting images of race and memory. Her poetry grapples with themes of personal and cultural identities of the African diaspora, a trademark of Jackson’s style. Jackson cites Gwendolyn Brooks as a great influence on her work.
She has also written four plays: Witness!, Shango Diaspora: An African-American Myth of Womanhood and Love; Comfort Stew (also known as When the Wind Blows); and Lightfoot: The Crystal Stair. Her poetry and short fiction have also appeared in various journals and anthologies, including the Chicago Review, Triquarterly, and Callaloo. In 2009 she published her first novel, Where I Must Go. Jackson has participated in Illinois’s Poets-in-the-Schools Program and has worked with the Organization of Black American Culture.
Jackson has received numerous honors for both fiction and poetry, including the Pushcart Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. All These Roads Be Luminous was nominated for the National Book Award, while Where I Must Go won the American Book Award.
- Southeastern Louisiana UniversityMarianna White Davis, Maryemma Graham, and Sharon Pineault-Burke, eds., Teaching African American Literature: Theory and Practice (1998)
- Laurie Levy, ed., Chicago Works: A Collection of Chicago Authors’ Best Stories (1990)
- D. Soyini Madison, The Woman That I Am: The Literature and Culture of Contemporary Women of Color (1994)
- Carole A. Parks, ed., Nommo: A Literary Legacy of Black Chicago (1967–1987) (1987)
- Poetry Foundation website, www.poetryfoundation.org