Ishmael Reed: An Exhibition celebrates the literary career of the distinguished American author Ishmael Reed. The University of Delaware Library is the official repository for the papers of Ishmael Reed and the exhibit includes books, original manuscripts, photographs, artwork, and other materials drawn from the extensive collection of the author's books and literary papers in Special Collections.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ishmael Reed grew up in Buffalo, New York and studied at the University of Buffalo. In the early 1960s he moved to New York City and was involved in a variety of literary and journalism projects. Reed served as an editor for the Newark, NJ, weekly, Advance, and in 1965 he helped found the East Village Other, an underground newspaper which was the first alternative paper to be sold nationally. That same year he organized the American Festival of Negro Art. Ishmael Reed was active in the New York-based Umbra Workshop and was instrumental in setting up the influential St. Mark's Project where in 1966 he ran its first fiction workshop.
Ishmael Reed's first novel, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, was published in 1967 and was followed two years later by Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (1969). With the publication of Mumbo Jumbo (1972), Reed's place as one of the most innovative contemporary novelists was secured. Ishmael Reed is also an accomplished poet, short story writer, and essayist and has had more than thirty books published. Ishmael Reed has also been active as a publisher and editor and co-founded Yardbird Publications, Reed, Cannon and Johnson Communications, and together with a group of multiethnic writers launched the Before Columbus Foundation which had the goal of forming an American literature that went beyond European models. He has edited numerous magazines and anthologies including Y'Bird, the Yardbird Reader, Quilt, and the internet-published Konch, to name several.
Ishmael Reed has also had a distinguished career as an educator, serving as Senior Lecturer for more than thirty years at the University of California, Berkeley, and currently is an emeritus faculty member at Berkeley.