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Naomi Long Madgett (born July 5, 1923) is an African American poet, born Naomi Cornelia Long in Norfolk, Virginia. Madgett was a teacher and an award winning poet, she is also the senior editor of Lotus Press, which is a publisher of poetry books by black poets.


Life and work

Madgett was the daughter of a Baptist minister, and spent her childhood in East Orange, New Jersey, and began writing at an early age.[1] While living in New Jersey, Madgett went to an integrated school where she faced racism.[2]

In 1937, her family moved to St. Louis, where she was encouraged to write while attending high school. Madgett read a wide range of content, from both white and black writers, from Aesop's fables and Robert T. Kerlin's anthology Negro Poets and Their Poems to Romantic and Victorian English poets such as John Keats, William Wordsworth, and Alfred Tennyson.[2]

At age 17 Naomi published her first book of poetry "Songs to a Phantom Nightingale," a few days after graduating from high school.[2]

Madgett attended Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), and graduated in 1945 with a bachelor of arts degree.[2]

Madgett married and moved to Detroit, where she worked for the Michigan Chronicle and gave birth to a daughter, Jill in 1947.[2] While living in Detroit, Madgett became a teacher in the Detroit public school system. Her poem "Midway," from her book of poetry "One and the Many," attracted wide attention as it portrayed black people struggles, and victories, in a time when racism was prevalent in the United States. In 1955, she graduated from Wayne State University with a M.Ed. [3]

In the 1960s, Madgett taught the first black literary course in the Detroit public school system. In 1968, she became a teacher in creative writing and black literature at Eastern Michigan University. Madgett taught at Eastern Michigan until her retirement in 1984.[2]

Some of her poems have been set up as songs and publicly performed.


  • Octavia and Other Poems (1988) which was national co-winner of the College Language Association Creative Achievement Award.
  • Long Poetry Foundation offered its first annual Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award for excellence in a manuscript by an African American poet.[4][5]


  • One and the many: poems, Exposition Press, 1956
  • Midway (1956)
  • Star by star: poems. Harlo Press. 1965.  
  • Pink Ladies in the Afternoon, Lotus Press, 1972 (Reprint 1990)
  • Exits and Entrances. Lotus Press. 1978. ISBN 9780916418137.  
  • Phantom Nightingale: Juvenilia: poems, 1934-1943. 1981. ISBN 9780916418304.  
  • Octavia and Other Poems. Third World Press. 1988. ISBN 9780883781210.  
  • Remembrances of spring: collected early poems. Michigan State University Press. 1993. ISBN 9780870133459.  
  • Connected islands: new and selected poems. Lotus Press. 2004. ISBN 9780916418946.  
  • Pilgrim Journey: autobiography. Lotus Press. 2006. ISBN 9780916418977.  


References and notes

  1. ^ Pilgrim Journey, Wayne State University Press. Accessed September 24, 2007. "The daughter of a Baptist pastor, Madgett was born in Virginia and moved with her family to East Orange, New Jersey as a toddler."
  2. ^ a b c d e f - TimeDispatch article on Naomi Long Madgett URL last accessed on 2006-08-16
  3. ^ William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, Trudier Harris, ed (2001). The concise Oxford companion to African American literature. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195138832.  
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links


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