Opal Adisa profile image

Diverse and multi-genre, Opal Palmer Adisa is an exceptional talent, nurtured on cane sap and the oceanic breeze of Jamaica. Writer of both poetry and prose, photographer, curator, professor, educator, and cultural activist, Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, England, and Prague, and has performed in Italy and Bosnia.

An award-winning poet and prose writer, Adisa has fourteen titles to her credit, including the novel It Begins With Tears (1997) that Rick Ayers proclaimed as one of the most motivational works for young adults.

She has been a resident artist in internationally acclaimed residencies such as El Gounda (Egypt), Sacatar Institute (Brazil), McColl Center, (North Carolina), and Headlines Center for the Arts (California).

Adisa’s work has been reviewed by Ishmael Reed, Al Young, and Alice Walker (The Color Purple), who described her work as “solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love.”

Following in the tradition of the African "griot" Adisa, an accomplished storyteller, commands the mastery and extraordinary talent of storytelling, exemplary of her predecessors. Through her imaginative characterizations of people, places, and things, she is able to transport her listeners to the very wonderlands she creates.

Curator and photographer, her photographs have been published and exhibited in the United States, Egypt, North Carolina, and Brazil.

A gifted diversity trainer, literary critic, and proud mother of three accomplished children, Adisa is the former parenting editor and host of the KPFA Radio Parenting show in Berkley, California.

She currently writes "The Graduate Parent" for the Healthy You website and writes a bimonthly poetry column for the Daily News, STT. 

Adisa has published hundreds of articles on different aspects of parenting, writing, and poetry and is currently writing a  book on effective parenting.

A distinguished professor of creative writing and literature in CCA's MFA Program in Writing and Diversity Studies program, where she teaches in the fall, she has been a visiting professor at several universities including, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and University of the Virgin Islands. 

Her poetry, stories, essays, and articles on a wide range of subjects have been collected in over 400 journals, anthologies. and other publications, including Essence magazine. She has also conducted workshops in elementary through high school, museums, churches, and community centers as well as in prison and juvenile centers.

Adisa is a vivacious, motivational speaker who will enthrall and mesmerize you with her words.

Published works:

Four-Headed Woman, poetry (Tia Chuchua Press, 2013)
Incantations & Rites, poetry with Devorah Major, (The Literary Leaf/Deconstructed Artichoke Press, 2013)
Painting Away Regrets, novel (Peepal Tree Press, 2011)
What A Woman Is, poetry (with paintings by Shyma Kamel; poems translated into Arabic) (Baitel Yasmin Press, 2010)
Caribbean Erotica, poetry & prose, essays (coedited with Donna Aza Weir-soley) (Peepal Tree Press, 2010)
• "Amour Verdinia," poetry, chapbook (The Literary Leaf/Deconstructed Artichoke Press, 2009)
• "Conscious Living," poem, chapbook, (The Literary Leaf/Deconstructed Artichoke Press, 2009)
I Name Me Name, poetry & prose (Peepal Tree Press, 2008)
Playing Is Our Work, poetry and stories for children (WWAC Publishers, 2008)
Until Judgment Comes, stories (Peepal Tree Press, 2007)
Updated Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories, stories (Mango Press Classic Series, 2007)
Eros Muse, poetry & essays (Africa World Press, 2006)
Sacatar Wombs Words, poems and photos, chapbook, 2006
Caribbean Passion, poetry (Peepal Tree Press, 2004)
Leaf-of-Life, poetry (Jukebox Press, 2000)
It Begins With Tears, novel (Heinemann, England, 1997)
Tamarind and Mango Women, poetry (Sister Vision Press, 1992)
Traveling Women, (a collaborative poetry collection with Devorah Major) (Jukebox Press, 1989)
Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories (Kelsey Street Press, 1986; Collins Publishing Group, London, 1989)
Pina, The Many-Eyed Fruit, children's book (Julian Richardson & Associates Publisher,1985)


Caribbean Women: Riding the Waves of Resistance (ProudFlesh, 2013)
Ayiti/Haiti, The Caribbean Writer, Volume 25, Silver Anniversary issue, poetry, prose, interviews, art criticism, bilingual: English/French
A New Trend, The Caribbean Writer, Volume 24, poetry, prose, interviews, tribute section

Distinguished Professor, Writing and Literature


BA, New York University; MA (English), MA (Drama), San Francisco State University; PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Website: www.opalpalmeradisa.com