Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Yona Harvey, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, is a widely anthologized poet and a cowriter (with Ta-Nehisi Coates) of Marvel's 'Black Panther & The Crew' (2017).
Awards: Public Poetry Project, GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book, Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Cave Canem Fellow, Pittsburgh Foundation Individual Artist Grant
Yona Harvey was born in 1974. She earned her undergraduate degree from Howard University, a Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) from The Ohio State University, and a Master’s of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). Harvey was selected as a Cave Canem Fellow three times and is the recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation (2012). Her poems have been featured in many contemporary journals such as, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, and West Branch, as well as in anthologies. Hemming the Water (2013) is Harvey’s first book of collected poems, and she is the cowriter (with Ta-Nehisi Coates) of Marvel's Black Panther & The Crew (2017), illustrated by Butch Guice.
Yona Harvey was born in 1974 to Ruby Harvey in southern Ohio and has one sister. She eventually left Ohio for Washington, DC, where she earned her undergraduate degree from Howard University. Harvey went on to pursue a Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) from The Ohio State University and a Master’s of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt).
In 1996, Yona Harvey was selected by the Cave Canem Foundation (a foundation dedicated to fostering the professional growth of African American poets) as a Cave Canem Fellow and participated in one of the organization’s first retreats. It was there where she met poet, Terrance Hayes. The two married soon after meeting and moved to Japan for a year, where Harvey taught in an exchange program. They have since divorced and share custody of their two children, Ua and Aaron. Harvey was also a Cave Canem Fellow in 1997 and 1999.
A selection of Harvey’s poems include: “Tarry: Notes On Polyphonics," "Mary J. (Upswing)," "The Antelope As Document," "Schotlekotte," and "Even Disasters," which appeared in No Tell Motel (2010) and “Mother, Love,” which appeared in Bat City Review (2009).
Harvey’s work tends to originate through methods of collage or sampling, informed by her background in archiving and information science, and she celebrates the many lives one piece of literature can possess through the various multimedia and web-related forms it can take. She welcomes innovation in the study of how poetry is constructed and presented, and she is often referred to as a, “literary artist.” Her interest in audio archives and rare poetry recordings furthers this fascination in her study of how poetry is read aloud.
The American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, Mary Lou Williams (who happened to grow up in the East Liberty area of Pittsburgh) is often a muse to Harvey’s work. This is especially true of her poetry collection, Hemming the Water (2013), which publisher Four Way Books describes as, “[a book that] speaks to the futility of trying to mend or straighten a life that is constantly changing.” The description goes on to read that with references to fairy tales and ancient fables, Yona Harvey, “inhabits, challenges, and explores the many facets of the female self—as daughter, mother, sister, wife, and artist—both on a personal level and cultural level.” Hemming the Water was awarded the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University in 2014.
Harvey is also the recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation (2012), and her poems can be found in jubilat, Gulf Coast, Callaloo, West Branch, and various contemporary journals and anthologies, including A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry (2012) and The Forces of What's Possible: Accessibility and the Avant-Garde (2014).
In 2017, she cowrote (with Ta-Nehisi Coates) the Marvel comic Black Panther & The Crew, illustrated by Butch Guice. Yona Harvey has served as an Assistant Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University and, at the time of this writing, is now an Assistant Professor of The Writing Program at Pitt, while also leading workshops for Creative Nonfiction magazine "designed for teens writing about their mental health experiences," according to her Pitt faculty page.
Powell K, Ed. Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature. Hoboken: Wiley, John, & Sons, Incorporated, 2000.
Derricotte T, Eady C, Dungy CT, Eds. Gathering Ground: A Readers Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 2006.
Finch A, Ed. A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 2012.
Hoang, L, Wilkinson, JM, Eds. The Forces of What's Possible: Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. New York: Nightboat, 2014.
Hemming the Water. New York: Four Way Books, 2013.
(With Ta-Neshisi Coates). Illustrated by Butch Guice. Black Panther & The Crew: We Are the Streets. New York: Marvel Comics, 2017.