Born May 31, 1939, at Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast near Biloxi, Al Young grew up in villages and small towns of the rural South, as well as in urban, industrial Detroit.
Young has taught poetry, fiction writing, and American literature at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, Bowling Green State University, Foothill College, the Colorado College, Rice University, the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, the University of Arkansas, San Jose State University (where he was appointed the 2002 Lurie Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing), and Charles University in the Czech Republic under the auspices of the Prague summer programs.
Among his honors: Wallace Stegner, Guggenheim, Fulbright National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the PEN-Library of Congress Award for Short Fiction, the PEN-USA Award for Non-Fiction, two American Book Awards, two Pushcart Prizes, two New York Times Notable Book-of-the-year citations, an Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship, the Stephen Henderson Achievement Award for Poetry, Radio Pacifica's KPFA Peace Prize, the Glenna Luschei Distinguished Poetry Fellowship, and the Richard Wright Award for Excellence in Literature.
Young's many books include novels, collections of poetry, essays, memoirs, and anthologies. His work has appeared in Paris Review, Ploughshares, Essence, the New York Times, Chicago Review, Seattle Review, Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz & Literature, Chelsea, Rolling Stone, Gathering of the Tribes, the Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and the Oxford Anthology of African American Literature.
In 2005 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him Poet Laureate of California.
Visiting Scholar, Writing