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Sterling Plumpp

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Information about Sterling Plumpp

Profile image of Sterling Plumpp

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Jazz and Blues Poet
African American Studies Professor
English Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Catfish, Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mississippi
Favorite Quote:
You Have to Believe That You're Beyond the Best.

Birthplace

Born:
1/30/1940
Birth Location:
Clinton, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Jazz and Blues Poet
African American Studies Professor
English Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Catfish, Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mississippi
Favorite Quote:
You Have to Believe That You're Beyond the Best.

Birthplace

Born:
1/30/1940
Birth Location:
Clinton
See how Sterling Plumpp is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chicago poet Sterling Plumpp was born January 30, 1940, in Clinton, Mississippi. Educated in public and religious schools, he graduated from high school in 1960 and went on to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago, earning a B.A. in 1968 and an M.A. in 1971.

Growing up poor in rural Mississippi, Plumpp worked in the cotton and cornfields and by the time he was eleven, he was expected to grow up to be a field hand. A bootlegger aunt had other plans for him, however, and paid for him to attend Holy Ghost High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Earning a scholarship to a small local college, Plumpp began his college education, but the scholarship money ran out, so he hitchhiked to Chicago in 1962. He worked in a post office until 1964, and during that time, he began writing his poetry.

Plumpp saw his first poems published in 1971 in Negro Digest and was hired to teach English and later African American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His poetry, often based on blues and jazz rhythms, has won him numerous awards, including the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for poetry, and three Illinois Arts Council awards. He has published twelve volumes of his work.

In recent years, Plumpp won a lottery jackpot, and he plans on leaving most of the money to his daughter, whose birth he describes as his most joyous occasion in life. Some of the money will also be used for returning to his native South, as well as a trip to Africa. Plumpp retired from UIC in 2001.

Selected Bibliography

Plumpp, Sterling. Somehow We Survive: An Anthology of South African Writing. Publishers Group West, 1982.
---. Ornate With Smoke. Third World Press, 1998.
---. Velvet BeBop Kente Cloth. Third World Press, 2001.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sterling Plumpp's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp recalls his family's reluctance to share stories of American slavery
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandfather's personality, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandfather's personality, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp recalls his mother's battle with cancer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about junior high school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about religion and attending Catholic school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his experience at a Catholic high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about deciding to attend college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes his experience at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and his decision to drop out after two years
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes his move to Chicago, Illinois and his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his interest in becoming a writer and joining the Chicago Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC)
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his views on black literature and Hoyt Fuller
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about studying psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp talks about being published by Detroit, Michigan's Broadside Press and Chicago, Illinois' Third World Press
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about the Institute of Positive Education in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about the relationship between the Institute of Positive Education and the Congress of African People
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes the split between the Institute for Positive Education and the Congress of African People
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp talks about joining the faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his publications with Third World Press and other literary magazines
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about 'Black Rituals' and his views on religion
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp shares his perspective on the Jewish salvation narrative
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp explains his views on American politics
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about race and American capitalism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about 'blackness' in American society and literature
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about rap music and the resurgence of poetry
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about potential writing projects
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp considers his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp recites from his poem, 'Clinton'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp narrates his photographs