( 1948- )
Pearl Cleage was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, but grew up in Detroit, Michigan. She studied playwriting at Howard University for three years and then completed her undergraduate education at Spelman College in 1971 with a BA in theatre. Later she pursued Afro-American studies at Atlanta University and creative writing at the University of the West Indies.
Cleage has worked at a variety of jobs in the Atlanta area, including working at the Archival Library of the Martin Luther King Memorial; serving as the director of communications for Atlanta's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson; and emerging as media personality by hosting "Black Viewpoints" on a local television channel and interviewing, writing, and producing "Ebony Beat Journal" for another station.
Pearl Cleage's multifaceted writing career includes poetry, essays, and fiction, in addition to her plays. Her most recently published collections include Mad at Miles: A Black Woman's Guide to Truth ( 1990), The Brass Bed and Other Stories ( 1991), and Deals with the Devil: And Other Reasons to Riot ( 1993). She is also a regular contributor to Essence, and her essays are published in numerous journals and magazines.
Amid all of her writing and journalistic endeavors, Cleage continues to write plays and to create and perform a repertoire of performance pieces, many done in collaboration with other artists. Her best known play, Flyin' West, commissioned by the Alliance Theatre, has had many regional productions. From 1983 to 1987, she was playwright in residence at Atlanta's Just Us Theatre Company where she took over the artistic directorship in 1987. She founded the magazine Catalyst in 1987, is a columnist for the Atlanta Tribune, and teaches creative writing at Spelman College.