Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938. He earned a BA and MA from what is now known as California State University, and an MFA from the University of Iowa.
He has published more than 10 books of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (ARC Publications, 2002); Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (2000); Honorable Amendments (1995); and Healing Song for the Inner Ear (1985).
His other collections include: Images of Kin (1977), which won the Melville-Cane Award from the Poetry Society of America and was nominated for the National Book Award; Nightmare Begins Responsibility (1975); History is Your Heartbeat (1971), which won the Black Academy of Arts & Letters Award for poetry; and Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970), which was nominated for the National Book Award.
Harper edited the Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (1980); he is co-editor with Anthony Walton of The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000) and Every Shut Eye Ain't Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945 (1994), and with Robert B. Stepto of Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship (1979).
He was the first Poet Laureate of the State of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and has received many other honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Award. Michael S. Harper is University Professor and Professor of English at Brown University, where he has taught since 1970. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island.