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Harryette Mullen was born in Florence, Alabama, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She has earned degrees in English and in Literature from the University of Texas, Austin, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Early in her career as a poet, she worked in the Artists in Schools program sponsored by the Texas Commission on the Arts, and for six years she taught African-American and other U.S. ethnic literatures at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Her books include Tree Tall Woman (1981), Trimmings (1991), S*PeRM**K*T (1992), Muse & Drudge (1995)—the latter three of which were collected into her most recent book, Recyclopedia (Graywolf, 2006) which received a PEN Beyond Margins Award. In 2002, she published both Blues Baby: Early Poems and Sleeping with the Dictionary, a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry.
“Harryette Mullen is a magician of words, phrases, and songs. . . . No voice in contemporary poetry is quite as original, cosmopolitan, witty, and tragic.”—Susan Stewart, citation for the Academy of American Poets Fellowship