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Poet Al Young Will Teach in Juniata Classrooms as Woodrow Wilson Fellow

(Posted September 24, 2001)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Poet, playwright, novelist and screenwriter Al Young will begin a week-long residency as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Oct. 1 through Oct. 5 at Juniata College, where he will visit a variety of classes and deliver a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Science Center on the Juniata campus.

Young's lecture, "Creativity and Human Survival," will explore whether creativity can be taught or whether creativity is an innate quality. The event is free and open to the public.

"Having Al Young come to our campus gives students and the community the chance to see a gifted writer and artist who has channeled a lifetime of experience into his work," says James Tuten, assistant provost for Juniata.

Young, a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, his written more than a dozen books of poetry and prose and has worked as a screenwriter on such films as "A Piece of the Action, with Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby; "Bustin' Loose," with Richard Pryor; and "Sparkle."

He also has extensive journalism experience, writing for Rolling Stone, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Early in his career Young worked a variety of jobs, including professional singer, disc jockey, medical photographer, clerk-typist, warehouseman and yardclerk for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

In addition to his own writing, Young often has collaborated with poet-novelist Ishmael Reed on films and writing projects. With Reed, he co-founded two anthologies, The Yardbird Reader and Quilt. These two journals featured early work by authors Thulani Davis, Mona Simpson, Terry McMillan, Ntozake Shange and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Young's own books include "Mingus/Mingus: Two Memoirs," "Seduction By Light," "Kinds of Blue," "Bodies & Soul" and "Ask Me Now." He was a lecturer in creative writing and literature at Stanford University from 19679 to 1976, and taught writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1983 to 1990.

He has written extensively on jazz and music. He also often performs readings of his work using live musical accompaniment. Born in Ocean Springs, Miss., Young spent his formative years in Detroit, Mich. and settled in the Bay Area after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969.

At Juniata, Young will visit classes devoted to newswriting, intercultural communication, sociology and Juniata's College Writing Seminar.
The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program was established to bring thoughtful and successful practitioners to colleges for a week of classes and informal discussions with students and faculty.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has developed and conducted programs in higher education since 1945. More than 200 colleges have participated in the Visiting Fellows program since 1973.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.