Melba J. Boyd - Distinguished Professor

Melba Joyce Boyd is Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies at Wayne State University. She is the author of thirteen books, including Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press (Columbia University Press) which received the 2005 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Book Honor for Nonfiction, and the editor of Roses and Revolutions: the Collected Writings of Dudley Randall (2009) which received the 2010 Library of Michigan Notable Books Award and was a finalist for a 2010 NAACP Image Award in Literature. Her 1994 book, Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825-1911, was widely reviewed and praised by critics.


Eight of her books are collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Death Dance of a Butterfly (2010), Blues Music Sky of Mourning: The German Poems (2006), and The Province of Literary Cats (2002). She has won a number of awards for her poetry including a Michigan Council for the Arts Individual Artist Award, and in 2009 she was a Nominee for the Kresge Eminent Artist Award. In 1997, she was commissioned to write the official poem for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which was inscribed in bronze in the museum wall, and lines from her poem, “We Want Our City Back,” appear in the sculpture Transcending: Michigan’s Tribute to Labor in downtown Detroit. Her poetry has been translated into German, Italian, and Spanish, and has appeared in numerous anthologies and international journals. She is also the coeditor (with M. L. Liebler) of Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001.

Boyd lectures at universities and conferences throughout the United States and abroad, and is the author of over 50 published essays on African American literature and film. In addition, she is the writer, producer and director of the documentary film, The Black Unicorn: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press (1996). She is the series coeditor of the African American Life Series at WSU Press, and a contributing editor for The Black Scholar: The Journal of Black Studies and Research.

In 1983-4, she was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Bremen in Germany and in 2009, she was a Visiting Professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. She has held professorial positions at the University of Iowa, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, where she continues to be an Adjunct Professor for The Center for Afroamerican and African Studies. 

She received a Doctor of Arts in English at the University of Michigan in 1979, and a B.A. (1971) and a M. A. (1972) in English at Western Michigan University.

View  CV | View Black Unicorn Video

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