Essex Hemphill at the Beams Philadelphia, PA, 1991
Born in Chicago in 1957, poet, writer, and activist Essex Hemphill was raised in Washington, D.C. and then settled in Philadelphia as a young adult. Hemphill’s early writings were published in Earth Life (1985) and Conditions (1986), but he gained significant attention when his poems appeared in Joseph Beam’s anthology of work by gay African American writers, In the Life, in 1986. After Beam’s death in 1988, Hemphill took over as editor of the planned sequel, Brother to Brother, winner of a
Pat Parker, Pleasant Hills, CA, 1989
Black lesbian feminist poet and activist, Pat Parker, was born Patricia Cooks in 1944 and raised in an impoverished African American community in the Third Ward of Houston, Texas. At seventeen, she left home and moved to Los Angeles, California, earning a bachelor’s degree at Los Angeles City College and then a graduate degree at San Francisco State College.