Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Jeffery Renard Allen  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Born: Chicago

-- Website --
-- Jeffrey Renard Allen on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Allen was born and raised in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Jeffery Renard Allen is a poet, essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Raised on the south side of Chicago, he now lives in New York and teaches at Queens College and in the writing program at the New School.

Published Works

  • Harbors and Spirits, Moyer Bell, 1999
  • Rails Under My Back, Harvest Books, 2000
  • Stellar Places, Asphodel Press, 2007
  • Holding Pattern, Graywolf Press, 2008
  • Song of the Shank, Graywolf Press, 2014

Selected Titles At Your Library

Harbors and spirits /
ISBN: 155921208X. OCLC Number:

Asphodel,. Wakefield, RI :. 1998.

Rails under my back :
ISBN: 0374246262. OCLC Number:

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,. New York :. 2000.

In a story that transcends time, "one image holding the family together is that of the railroad--the railroad that carries the Jones men off to war and back again, that carries their parents from the South to the North, from living quarters to workplace, from one form of bondage or freedom to another."--Jacket.

Stellar places /
ISBN: 155921385X. OCLC Number:

Asphodel Press :. Kingston, R.I. :. 2007.

Holding pattern :
ISBN: 1555975097. OCLC Number:

Graywolf Press,. St. Paul, Minn. :. ©2008.

Allen melds gritty urban life and magical realism in his first collection (after the novel Rails Under My Back). At times, the combination works-in the title story, full of contemporary slang, a character grows wings, but instead of ethereal white feathers, they are dried up and brown and crusty, like some fried chicken wings.

Song of the shank :
ISBN: 1555976808. OCLC Number:

. .

"In 1866 as Tom and his guardian, Eliza Bethune, struggle to adjust to their fashionable apartment in the city in the aftermath of riots that had driven them away a few years before. But soon a stranger arrives from the mysterious island of Edgemere, inhabited solely by African settlers and black refugees from the war and riots, who intends to reunite Tom with his now-liberated mother."--Page 4 of cover.


Rails Under My Back

  • Heartland Prize for Fiction, Chicago Tribune

    Holding Pattern

  • Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

    Other Awards:

  • Whiting Writer's Award

  • Chicago Public Library's Twenty-first Century Award

  • Pioneering Achievements in Fiction, African American Literature and Culture Association

  • Charles Angoff Award for Fiction, The Literary Review, 2003

  • Special citations from the Society for Midlands Authors and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

    Jeffery Renard Allen is represented by the Jodi Solomon Speakers Bureau.