When Al Young attended the University of Michigan, he co-edited Generation, the campus literary magazine. In 1961 he immigrated to Berkeley where he held a variety of colorful jobs: folksinger, lab aide, disk jockey, medical photographer, before graduating from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Spanish. From 1969-1976 he was an Edward B. Jones Lecturer in creative writing at Stanford near Palo Alto, where he lived and worked for three decades.
Young has taught poetry and fiction writing at nine colleges and universities, including three branches of the University of California. He has written novels, collections of poetry, essays, memoirs, anthologies and film scripts. His work has appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Essence, The New York Times, Chicago Review, Seattle Review, Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz and Letters, Rolling Stone and the Norton Anthology of African American Literature.
Young has been widely honored for his writing by Wallace Stegner, Guggenheim, Fulbright and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. He also received the PEN-Library of Congress Award for Short Fiction, the PEN-USA Award for Non-Fiction, two American Book Awards, the Pushcart Prize, and twice received The New York Times’ Notable Book of the Year award.
His current projects include a novel, an account in verse of Lord Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb’s infamous romance and a screen adaption of Seduction By Light. He is also working as a co-editor on volume two of The Literature of California. CitiZen: Spirit & Democracy is a collection of column-length dialogues between Young and O.O. Gabugah on the current state of democracy in the U.S. which was inspired by Langston Hughes’ Simple Speaks His Mind.