California Countercultures: Poetry and Protest with Ishmael Reed

Ishmael Reed is a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, songwriter, public media commentator, lecturer, and publisher. His recent publications include The Complete Muhammad Ali, his latest nonfiction work; the essay collection Going Too Far: Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown; his tenth novel, Juice!; and New and Collected Poems, 1964–2007. In 2013, his seventh play, The Final Version, premiered at the off-off-Broadway Nuyorican Poets Cafe. He is founder of the Before Columbus Foundation and PEN Oakland, nonprofit organizations run by writers for writers. He is a MacArthur Fellow, and among his other honors are the University of Buffalo’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize nominations, and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award. He was awarded the 2008 Blues Songwriter of the Year by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, and his collaborations with jazz musicians for the past forty years were recognized by SFJazz Center with his appointment from 2012 to 2016 as San Francisco’s first Jazz Poet Laureate. His online international literary magazine, Konch, can be found at

About California Countercultures
Thinking Through the Arts and Design at Berkeley: California Countercultures is a UC Berkeley course cotaught by Natasha Boas, independent curator and critic of contemporary art and theory, and Michael Cohen, associate teaching professor in the African American studies department. The Wednesday public lecture series is organized by Natasha Boas. California Countercultures is sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Big Ideas program and the Arts + Design Initiative, with additional support from Cal Performances and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.