Herman Beavers is Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been teaching African American literature and creative writing since 1989. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Oberlin College, where he studied in the creative writing program with Stuart Friebert, Diane Vreuls, and David Young, while also receiving degrees in sociology and government.
After graduation, he went on to the Graduate Writing Program at Brown University, where he studied fiction with novelists John Hawkes and R. V. Cassill and poetry with Michael S. Harper. From Brown, he moved on to Yale, where he received an MA in African American Studies and a PhD in American Studies. In addition to Penn, he has taught at Wesleyan University, Sarah Lawrence College, Trinity College, and Princeton, and he has been the Distinguished Visiting Professor of English at the University of Kansas.
His first poems were published in Black American Literature Forum (presently titled The African American Review), Dark Phrases, and The Cincinnati Poetry Review. He was among the first group of Cave Canem Fellows when the group was established in 1996. Since then, his poems have appeared in Whiskey Island, Cross Connect, Peregrine, The Painted Bride Quarterly, Callaloo, MELUS, The Langston Hughes Colloquy, Versadelphia, Cleaver Magazine, and American Arts Quarterly, as well as the anthology Gathering Ground: A Cave Canem Reader.
His poems have been nominated for the Best American Poetry series Best of the Web, and nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize in poetry. His sestina “The Relative of Fear” appears in the anthology Obsession: Sestinas for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Marilyn D. Krysl and Carolyn Beard Whitlow, and he has poems in the forthcoming anthology Who Will Speak for America from Temple University Press. His chapbook Obsidian Blues was published in May 2017 by Agape Editions as part of its Morning House Chapbook Series. He is completing work on a volume of poems entitled Even in Such Light and beginning work on another volume that features characters from Toni Morrison’s Beloved. He lives in Burlington Township, New Jersey, with his wife, Lisa, and their two children, Michael and Corinne.