Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 13, 1938. He attended what is now California State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree, and then went on to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa.
The world of poetry is in mourning today. Poet, anthologist, and raconteur Michael S. Harper has left this life for a more ethereal one. I’m told that in the end he was surrounded by all of his children, while the music of John Coltrane presided reverently over the gathering. For those who knew Michael or his work, you know that family (both immediate and extended) was an all-consuming passion. Some of his most intense—and, yes, challenging—poetic expression plumbed the depths of his ancestral past, exploring the continuity of a tradition that revealed the past as prologue. Now he has gone to join the ancestors about whom he wrote so thoughtfully. The body of work he leaves behind, his expressive legacy, is best described in words inspired by Coltrane: “a love supreme.” Thank you, Michael, for all that and for much more. May you now and forever rest in peace.