Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 13, 1938. He earned a BA and MA from what is now known as California State University, and an MFA from the University of Iowa.
Harper published more than ten books of poetry, including his debut collection, Dear John, Dear Coltrane (University of Illinois Press, 1970), which was nominated for the National Book Award.
Harper was the first poet laureate of the state of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and received many other honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Harper was a professor of English at Brown University, where he taught from 1970 to 2013. Michael S. Harper died in 2016.
by Michael S. Harper, 1938 – 2016
Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn’t find them.
Can’t find what you can’t see