New and Selected Poems, 1982 -2011 by Tennessee Reed combines 38 pages of new poetry with Editor Paul Kareen Tayyar’s selections from 335 pages of poetry contained in her four previously published collections. Tayyer feels “This volume cements Ms. Reed’s status as Oakland's Guardian Angel, as her funny, wise, and often philosophical poems capture the grand, enduring character of this Northern California city.”
Living a poet's life since the age of five, Tennessee Reed’s first poetry collection, Circus in the Sky (I. Reed Books, 1988), was published when she was eleven years old. These poems were written between the ages of five and eleven (Kindergarten-5th grade). The poems in her second book of poetry, Electric Chocolate (Raven’s Bones Press, 1990), were written between the ages of eleven and thirteen (6th-7th grades). Her third poetry book, Airborne (Raven’s Bones Press, 1996), was written from ages thirteen through nineteen (8th grade through her sophomore year of college). Her fourth and fifth books, City Beautiful and Animals & Others, were combined in a collection, City Beautiful, Poems 1998-2006 (Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, 2006) and were written from her junior year in college into 2006.
Tennessee Reed has presented poetry readings throughout the United States, and in England, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany, where in 1994 she became the youngest person presented by the United States Information Agency's Arts America Program. Composers Meredith Monk and Carman Moore set Tennessee Reed's poetry to music for “Face the Music,” a live performance work by The Children's Troupe of Roberts + Blank that premiered in Oakland’s East Bay Dance Festival in 1992, and Ms. Monk has continued to perform the work, “Three Heavens and Hells,” throughout the U.S. and Europe besides recording it on “Volcano Songs” (ECM New Series CD, 1997).
Her poetry has also appeared in the San Francisco Examiner, Quilt magazine, the California State Library Foundation Bulletin, Poetry USA #25 & 26, The Raven Chronicles, Konch magazine, and in the anthology, From Totems to Hip Hop, edited by Ishmael Reed (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2003). Her non-fiction publications include her essay, “Being Mixed in America,” which appears in MultiAmerica: Essays on Cultural Wars and Cultural Peace edited by Ishmael Reed (Viking, 1997) and Spell Alburquerque, Memoir of a “Difficult” Student (CounterPunch and AK Press, 2009), which chronicles her educational experiences, beginning with pre-school. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and has a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College.
Many writers have commented on Tennessee Reed’s impressive craft:
“Tennessee Reed is a brand new star in the galaxy of our spirit – shining for all of our people.” Simon Ortiz, author of Telling and Showing Her
“Not only do Tennessee Reed’s refreshing poems concern themselves with a range of concerns—from global travel and the stunning achievements of Bessie Coleman, black aviation pioneer, to global warfare, the misuse of hi-technology, and an ageless fascination with the aging process itself. This young, gifted poet writes with clarity, wit and wonder—and with an open-hearted passion that disarms, refreshes, and delights.” Al Young, former Poet Laureate of California and author of Something About the Blues
“I appreciated the rhythm of your voice in every poem. Felt you were near reading to me. That’s the accomplishment of a true poet, a poetic voice. You took me from social action, thru your travels, and into the animal world as few can do. The details were true, imagistic, as real as the emotion each poem evokes, and the total picture was that of a person who understands her subject matter. The animal poems are just awesome.” Rudolfo Anaya, author of Bless Me Ultima
“Tennessee Reed’s poems often appear to be just straight-out narrative reporting. This is what I saw. This is what I heard. But when you put those experiences together, a new unsaid experience is created; this is where the magic happens. The gold leafed dome of a city hall + homeless human beings equals what? Two news anchors dubbed ‘Barbie’ and ‘Ken’ give warnings about ‘American black bears.’ On the surface, it all seems innocent enough. But read the quote by the park ranger and you’ll know this poem has a lot more to say than something about hungry, delinquent bears in Yosemite and, indeed, about the media machine itself. By the time you finish reading City Beautiful, you come away feeling close, somehow, to Tennessee Reed, she has shared so much about herself and how she sees, hears and investigates this world. There is no hesitation. The opening poem of City Beautiful, ‘Choosing Sides,’ lets us in immediately, and there we stay.” Katharine Hastings, author of Cloud Fire
Causes Tennessee Reed Supports
green and safe environment, anti-war, equal educational opportunities for all children, affordable health care for everyone, equal pay for equal work,...