Thylias Moss is apoet, writer, experimental filmmaker, sound artist and playwright, of African American, Native American, and European heritage. She has published a number of poetry collections.
Moss was born Thylias Rebecca Brasier, in a working-class family in Ohio. Her Native American father was a tire recapper, and her mother a maid. Moss has said that her father chose the name Thylias because he decided she needed a name that hadn’t existed before. According to Moss, her first few years of life were happy, with Moss and her family living in the upstairs rooms of an older Jewish couple named Feldman (who Moss believes were Holocaust survivors).
When Moss was five, the Feldmans sold their house and moved away. Her parents continued to live in the house with the new homeowners and their 13-year-old daughter, Lytta, who began to baby-sit Thylias after school. Lytta tormented Moss on a daily basis. In addition to this, as a child Moss experienced several horrific events, such as seeing a friend jump from a window to escape a would-be rapist and witnessing a boy on a bicycle get killed by a truck.
Moss attended Syracuse University. After several years of working, she enrolled in Oberlin College in 1979 and graduated in 1981. Moss later received a Master of Arts in English, with an emphasis on writing, from the University of New Hampshire. Moss is now Professor of English and Professor of Art and Design at the University of Michigan.