Al Young

Al Young photo

Al Young was born Born May 31, 1939 at Ocean Springs, Mississippi on the Gulf Coast near Biloxi and was raised in the rural South of villages and small towns, and in urban, industrial Detroit. From 1957-1960 he attended the University of Michigan, where he co-edited Generation, the campus literary magazine. In 1961 he emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area. Settling at first in Berkeley, he held a variety of colorful jobs (folksinger, lab aide, disk jockey, medical photographer, clerk typist, employment counselor) before graduating with honors from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Spanish.

His honors include Wallace Stegner, Guggenheim, Fulbright, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the PEN-Library of Congress Award for Short Fiction, the PEN-USA Award for Non-Fiction, two American Book Awards, two Pushcart Prizes, two New York Times Notable Book of the year citations, an Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship, the Stephen Henderson Achievement Award for Poetry, Radio Pacifica’s KPFA Peace Prize, the Glenna Luschei Distinguished Poetry Fellowship, and the Richard Wright Award for Excellence in Literature. At its May 2009 commencement, Whittier College conferred on him its highest honor: the Doctor of Humane Letters degree. On October 4, 2011 at the University of North Carolina’s Historic Players Theatre, Al Young received the 2011 Thomas Wolfe Prize.

His marriage in 1963 to technical writer and editor Arline Young was blessed with one child: their son Michael, born in 1971. From 1969-1976 he was Edward B. Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford near Palo Alto, where he lived and worked for three decades. In the Y2K year 2000 he returned to Berkeley, where he continues to freelance. Photo: Joseph Robinson

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19 Books by Al Young