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Afaa Michael Weaver (蔚雅風 in Chinese, and previously Michael S. Weaver) was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where he attended public schools. After two years of study at the University of Maryland-College Park, he later earned his BA at Regents College-University of the State of New York (now Excelsior College) and completed graduate work in creative writing at Brown University, where his focus was playwriting and theater.
Weaver’s early poetry was influenced by the Black Arts Movement and the poetry of Lucille Clifton. His first collection of poetry, Water Song (1985), was ten years in the making. During those apprenticeship years, he also wrote short fiction, worked as a freelance journalist, and established 7th Son Press, a small press that produced the journal Blind Alleys. His career as a book reviewer began in the mid-1980s when he wrote reviews first for Andrei Codrescu’s Exquisite Corpse and later for the Baltimore Sun.
When Weaver received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for poetry in 1985, he left Baltimore, where he had supported himself by working in factories. He began teaching in 1987, first at Essex County College and later at Seton Hall Law School, CUNY, NYU, and Rutgers University, where he received tenure with distinction. Later he moved to Simmons College and Drew University’s MFA program. He was the editor of Obsidian III from 1997 until 2001, when he accepted an appointment from the Fulbright Association to teach at National Taiwan University.