Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Quraysh Ali Lansana  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Children; Children;

Born: 1964 in Enid, Oklahoma

-- Website --
-- Quraysh Ali Lansana on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Lansana lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Quraysh Ali Lansana is the author of eight poetry books, three textbooks, three children's books, editor of eight anthologies, and coauthor of a book of pedagogy. He is a faculty member of the Creative Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a former faculty member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School. Lansana served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2011, where he was also Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing until 2014. He earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree at the Creative Writing Program at New York University, where he was a Departmental Fellow. He has been a literary teaching artist and curriculum developer for over a decade and has led workshops in prisons, public schools, and universities in over 30 states.Lansana's work has been published widely in journals and magazines across the country and internationally, including ''Callaloo'', ''American Poetry Review'', and ''Crab Orchard Review'', among others. Along with the books listed below, he has written the chapbooks ''reluctant minivan'' (2014), ''bloodsoil (sooner red)'' (2009), ''Greatest Hits: 1995-2005'' (2006), and ''cockroach children: corner poems and street psalms'' (1995). He has also co-edited, ''The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop'' with Kevin Coval and Nate Marshall (2015), ''Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks'' with Sandra Jackson-Opoku, (2017) and The ''Whiskey of our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent'' with Georgia A. Popoff (2017).

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Southside Rain
ISBN: 0883782197

Third World Press. 1999

Lansana uses his words to talk about the everyday life of a Black Chicagoan. He tells of images and the people in Chicago and other places seen through the lens of a Chicagoan.

They Shall Run: Harriet Tubman Poems
ISBN: 0883782642

Third World Press. 2007

These poems trace the journeys of the great Black historical figure Harriet Tubman and her fugitives through the backwoods of America.

Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy, & Social Justice in Classroom & Community
ISBN: 0915924285

Teachers & Writers Collaborative. 2011

In Our Difficult Sunlight, Quraysh Ali Lansana and Georgia Popoff demonstrate the power of poetry in the K-12 classroom. Drawing on their combined thirty years as teaching artists, the authors explore the terrain of the 21st-century public school and outline strategies for using the reading and creation of poetry to improve students' reading comprehension and writing skills. Highlighting best practices, exercises, and anecdotes rooted in their diverse experiences as a Chicago-based, African American poet/professor and a Caucasian poet/educator from upstate New York, Lansana and Popoff offer insights into how engaging young people in writing and sharing poetry can break down barriers to learning, aid in exploration of critical issues, and foster connections among students and teachers from very different backgrounds.

mystic turf
ISBN: 0985287756

Aquarius Press/Willow Books. 2012

Poetry. African American Studies. "MYSTIC TURF is the poetry that bears your name, like the very earth you walk upon and christen with your strides. In these poems that lyrically insinuate in brief yet lasting notes, Quraysh Ali Lansana tags the nervous streets, American foothills, domestic rooms and memories that constitute our bluesy soul, and asks, why can't we speak the grace we all avoid? We have no slipperiness here, just the solid walkings and meditations of a man poised in his life to speak the grace he's earned and to speak his journey with enormous dignity and artfulness."—Major Jackson

"In this reflective, starkly personal book, this daring exploration of memories both melancholy and revelatory, Quraysh Ali Lansana has shattered that insistent barrier that often separates us from our own histories. These melodic, unflinching vignettes chronicle a search for a definitive root, and the poet's journey mesmerizes, entertains, surprises and inspires."—Patricia Smith

The Walmart Republic
ISBN: 0990320405

Mongrel Empire Press. 2014

Quraysh Ali Lansana is from Enid, OK. Christopher Stewart was raised in Dallas, small Texas towns, and Chicago neighborhoods. A white man and a black man born in post Kennedy, post-King southern and midwestern USA, though both disagree with those geographical tags. Through these poems, the poets assert that their births, their ways of seeing, and their pains are rooted in what Ali Lansana's OU film professor termed "the Walmart Republic," a land where shopping center is community center. Where the failures of the father are re-learned in the lessons of the son. As poet Elise Paschen declares, "Quraysh Ali Lansana and Christopher Stewart pack the punch in these gritty poignant poems. Their poetic techniques counterpoint each other from lyric narratives to sharp edgy sonic bursts, creating a novel-like narrative. We follow two different journeys which begin in the Bible Belt and reach adulthood in places across the map. These gutsy poems explore identity and race against the backdrop of an ever-changing America.

A Gift From Greensboro
ISBN: 0997221917

Penny Candy Books. 2016

A Gift from Greensboro (Ages 5 & up) is at once an elegy, a celebration of the magic of childhood friendship, and a meditation on growing up in the wake of the sit-ins that ushered in the Civil Rights Movement. Paired with intricate, layered illustrations, this poem recognizes that true friendship knows no boundaries and that love drives positive change.


''Our Difficult Sunlight

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)