Place of birth
Trinidad and Tobago
Place of residence
United States of America
National identity
Trinidad and Tobago
United States of America

Brenda Flanagan

Short biography
Brenda Flanagan was born in Trinidad in 1949, the twelfth of fourteen children in an impoverished family. Her father was a barman, her mother a laundress. Brenda Flanagan recalls having a hunger for involvement with the wider world and dreamt of being a writer. She started writing poetry at the age of ten and by thirteen she was singing calypsos and earning money for it. However, at the age of fourteen she had to leave school to help support her family, by then only parented by her mother. She worked for a time in a factory, then was taken on as a trainee reporter of The Nation, the newspaper of the then ruling People's National Movement led by Dr. Eric Williams.

In 1967 she left Trinidad for the USA, working initially as a domestic servant. Marriage and motherhood deflected her plans to study, but by 1975, then a single mother, she began undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. There she won prestigious Hopwood Awards for her short stories, a novel and drama.

Peepal Tree publishes three books by Brenda Flanagan, the prize-winning novel, You Alone Are Dancing, a collection of short stories, In Praise of Island Women and Other Crimes, and Allah in the Islands, a sequel to You Alone Are Dancing


Brenda A. Flanagan, PhD. Edward Armfield Professor of English
English Department 
Box 6940
Davidson College
Davidson, North Carolina 28035 
Office telephone: 704-894-2434 Email:[email protected]
Post Office box 501
125 Morrison Hill Road
Davidson, North Carolina 28036

PhD (1986) The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dissertation: Pesticide Literacy among Small-scale Farmers in Trinidad. (Public Health Education).
MA (1978) The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Area: Educational 
BA with distinction (1977) The University of Michigan: Print Journalism
Further studies at National Center for the Humanities, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the Globalization of American Studies (Summer, 2008) Beloit College Center for Language Studies in Czech language (Summer 2003); The University of Pennsylvania: Studies in the Indian Ocean (Humanities: Summer 2002); Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic (Summer 2001) in Central European Politics and History; The University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida (Summer 1979) in Caribbean Literature, and at Trenton State College, New Jersey (Summer 1988), and Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia (Summer 1981) in African American Literature.

Current status:
Edward Armfield Sr. Professor of English, English Department, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28036; 1996-
Teaching responsibilities: Creative Writing, African American Literature, Caribbean Literature, World Literatures, Colonial/Postcolonial Literatures, Expository writing, Literary theory.

Faculty Liaison/Director of the Ethnic Studies Concentration: Africana, Latin American, and Native American Tracks (1999 to 2009; 2011-2012)

Brief bio: (Publicity purposes)
Since 2003, Dr. Flanagan has served as a Cultural Ambassador for the United States Department of State. In 2005, she was the first American writer to be sent on a cultural mission to Libya in 25 years. Her visit opened doors to other American cultural missions. Flanagan has served in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Kuwait (twice), Tajikistan (twice), Morocco, Tunisia (four), Kazakhstan (four), Turkmenistan, Chad, Panama, India, and the Czech Republic (three). In addition to lectures on African American, Caribbean, and World Literatures, Flanagan performs her work, and engages in dialogue with citizens, students, professors, creative artists and journalists in these diverse countries on such subjects as US public policies, diversity, politics and race, and the achievement of success in hostile environments.
Her collection of short fiction, In Praise of Island Women & Other Crimes has been fully translated into Russian. Selected stories have been translated into Spanish and Arabic. In Praise of Island Women & Other Crimes (2010) and her latest novel, Allah in the Islands (2009)are available from Peepal Tree Press (England). Her first prize-winning novel, You Alone Are Dancing, is available from The University of Michigan Press.
The North Carolina Arts Council awarded Flanagan a major grant to a complete a creative non-fiction book (working title: Mississippi God-damn) about the jazz-blues singer, Nina Simone, with whom she worked in 1967. Flanagan is also at work on a book about Czech Surrealist writer Eva Svankmajerova, and a third novel that will complete the “Beatrice” series. 
In March 2011, Dr. Flanagan was selected at the Resident International Scholar for Robert Morris University’s Patricia Rooney International Scholar Program. 
In June 2012, Dr. Flanagan presented lectures on African American Literature to universities and secondary schools, conducted workshops in poetry and Spoken Word, and performed her fiction in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town, South Africa, and in Windhoek, Namibia, at the invitation of the U.S. State Department and American embassies in those two countries, and with assistance from the Armfield Professorship at Davidson College.

Professor, English Department, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan: 1989-1996.
Adjunct professor: English Department, Adrian College, Adrian, Michigan; 1991-1995.
Associate faculty: Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1991-1996.
Visiting professor: English Department, Davidson College, Davidson, NC: Fall 1994.
Visiting Professor, English Department, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii: Summer 1994.
Instructor: English Department, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1986-1994.
Lecturer in African American Literature, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan: 1986-1989.
Adjunct professor, Center for African-American and African Studies, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1986-1990.
Teaching assistant, English Department (CULS), The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1981-1985.
Assistant professor, English Department, Tuskegee Institute: 1978-1981.
Teaching Aide, Mitchell Elementary School, Ann Arbor School District, Michigan: 1972-1973.

Non-teaching positions:
Editor, The Center for Africanamerican and African Studies Newsletter, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1987-1990.
Admissions counselor for publications, The University of Michigan, 1984-1985.
Editor, The Tuskegeean, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama: 1979-1981.
Accounts Receivable Clerk, Pepsi-Cola Corporation, Royal Oak, Michigan, 1971-1972.
Academic Counselor, Texarkana, Arkansas School District: 1970-1971.
Sales Consultant, Wickes Furniture, Warren, Michigan: 1973-1975.
Routing Clerk, New York Telephone Company, Brooklyn, New York: 1968-1969.
Family assistant to singer, Nina Simone, Mount Vernon, New York: 1967-1968.
Reporter, The Nation newspaper, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, WI: 1965-1967.

Some recent creative writing workshops and literature consultancies:
Writing and Performing Spoken Word, US Cultural Center, Windhoek, Namibia, June 
Performing South African Spoken Word, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 2012.
Women writers in Dublin, Ireland, July 2010.
Tajikistan: various locations in Dushanbe, May 2009.
Kazakhstan Writers, Almaty, Kazakhstan. February 2008.
Gaston County Public Library, Gastonia, North Carolina. February 3, 2007.
Institute Superieures des Langues de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia. December 12, 2006.
Ashley Hall, Charleston, South Carolina, October 27, 2006
Numerous writing workshops in Kuwait, Spring, 2006
Springfield Writers Conference, Walloon Lake, Michigan, September 2005
Judge: North Carolina Writers Network, spring, 2005.
Detroit Working Writers Conference, Schoolcraft College, Michigan. October 2004.
Charlotte Folk Camp, July 2004.
Creative writers in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, February 2003
Oakland University Writers Program, spring, 2002.
North Carolina Writers Network, November 2001.
Far Field Writers Retreat (workshop), Michigan, summer, 1997.
Cranbrook Summer Writers Program, summer, 1996.
Communication Media and Arts High School, Detroit, Michigan, 1994-1997.
Henry Ford High School, Detroit, Michigan, 1994-1996.
Mumford High School, 1995. (National Endowment for the Humanities grant)
Cranbrook-Kingswood School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1993.
Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1991-1996.
Michigan Council for the Arts Writers grant, 1993.
Western Michigan Third Coast Writers Conference (workshops): 1991-1995.
Washtenaw Intermediate School District: 1991-1996.
Western Michigan Third Coast Writers Conference: 1991-1995
Cranbrook Summer Writers Program, summer, 1996.

Awards and Fellowships:
Robert Morris University International Scholar, March, 2011. Robert Morris University, 
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
North Carolina Arts Council Award for literary non-fiction, September 2009.
Jesse Ball DuPont Fellow, National Humanities Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 
Summer 2008
Named Edward Armfield Sr. Professor of English at Davidson College, September 2006.
North Carolina Artists Fellowship for Residency at Headlands, California, summer 2006.
Davidson College Research Grant for research into Czech surrealism, Czech Republic, 
Summer 2005.
Global Partners Travel Fellowship for research in the Czech Republic, summer 2005.
SQUAW Valley Writers Fellowship, August 2003
Global Partners and Beloit College Fellowships to study Czech, July-August 2003
Travel Grant from Global Partners to visit Cuba, March 2003
Global Partners Summer Fellowship 2002 to conduct research in Central Europe and France.
Global Partners Summer Fellowship in Central Europe, Summer 2001
Abernethy Award, Davidson College: 1999 to conduct research in Alabama
Summer Research Awards, Davidson College: 1997; 1998.
James Michener Fellowship for Creative Writing, University of Miami, Coral Gables, 
Miami: Summer 1992.
State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award, Eastern Michigan University: 1991.
Michigan Council for the Arts Individual Artist Award: 1990.
Faculty Recognition Award for publication, EMU: 1990.
Spring/Summer Fellowship, EMU: 1990.
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships: 1987, 1979.
Continuing Education of Women Scholar Award, The University of Michigan: 1986.
Avery and Julie Hopwood Awards, Major category, for novel, drama, and short fiction: 1985; 1984; 1978.
Mellon Foundation Award: 1981.
Lily Foundation/UNCF Scholar Awards: 1985, 1983.
Charles Dana Scholar Award, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1982

Recent Publications:
“Barack Obama’s “Blackness” (article). Critical Essays on Barack Obama: 
Re-affirming the Hope, Re-vitalizing the Dream, Ed. Melvin B. Rahming. 
United Kingdom. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012. 185-194. Print.
“Blue Waters Are For Drowning” (Short fiction). Beyond Sangre Grande—Caribbean 
Writing Today. Ed. Cyril Dabydeen. Canada. TSAR Publications 2011. 990-103. 
“Blue Waters Are For Drowning” (Short story) OBSIDIAN, Double Issue:
Vol.10. Issue 2 Fall/Winter 2009;Vol 11. Issue 1 Spring/Winter 2010. North Carolina 
State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (43-48). (Actual publication in 2011) Print.
“Soul Hands Clap in the 60s: History and African American Poetry” (article) ILHA DO 
DESTERRO A journal of English Language, Literatures in English, and Cultural 
Studies. Special edition: New Perspectives on History through Literature, edited by 
Gisele Manganelli Fernandes. No 59-July/Dec 2010-Florianopolis, SC. (85-100). 
Universidade Federal de Santa Cartarina. Centro de comunicação e Expressão. 
Departamento de Língua e Literatura Estrageiras. (Actual publication in 2011)
“Snakes” (short story) Barely South Review, an Old Dominion University on-line 
publication. January, 2011. (See also an interview about Craft.)
“How Haiti Survives’ (article) Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper. Thursday, June 17, 2010; 
“Sea Baths” (short story) BIM, Volume 1. No 2 (57-61)
In Praise of Island Women & Other Crimes (short story collection; new and revised) 
Peepal Tree Press, Leeds, England. Summer 2010.
Allah in the Islands (novel) Peepal Tree Press, England. August 2009.
“Leased” (short story) American Fiction, an on-line publication, Summer, 2009.
“A View From The South” (article) The Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper. September 18-
24, 2008 issue. Op Ed page.
Editor: SABLE magazine, the Caribbean Literature issue. Spring-summer 2007. SABLE 
is a literary journal published in London, England. 
“There Should Be Valleys” (poem) Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Winter 2005-06 
Volume 24, Number 1, 12.
“Riding the Bulls at Angola” (creative essay) KONCH (Ishmael Reed’s on-line 
magazine), Summer 2005.
In Praise of Island Women & Other Crimes (collection of short stories) Georgia, 
KaRu Press, 2005.
“Labor, lies, and Lilacs” (novel chapters) SABLE, Summer 2004. 75-83.
“The Green Card” (short story) Vines, Ishmael Reed’s online magazine. October 2004. 
“Tuskegee’s Real Founder” (article) American Legacy, Volume 9/No.3; Fall 2003. 
“Sea Baths” (short story) In Controlled Burn, Volume IX, Winter 2003. 75-79.
“Beg Pardon” (short story). In KONCH, Ishmael Reed’s online literary magazine: March, 
“People We Know” (short fiction) The Raleigh Observer Literary Section, March, 
“The Stone Growers” (short story) Controlled Burn, Volume V, Winter 1999: 46-50.
“To Die of Old Age in a Foreign Country” (short fiction). In African American Literature Anthology. Ed. Al Young. New York. HarperCollins, 1996. 298-300.
You Alone Are Dancing (novel). Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1996.
“Homeless in Oahu” (prose poem) Caliban, Volume 15, 1995: 50-51.
“Behind God’s Back”* (short story). Controlled Burn, Volume 1, Winter 1995: 77-86.
“The Girl From Bahia” (prose poem) Caliban, fall 1994: 17-79.
“Habana Libre” (short story) Blossoming Trends, 1994: 9-20.
“Gloria’s Shop” (short story) Drumvoices, Volume 3, Winter 1993-1994: 91-97.
“At Dick Gregory’s Training Camp” (poem) The Bridge, Volume 2, (1) Winter 1991- 
992: 56
“The Image” (essay) Calalloo, Volume 14, Winter 1992: 758-764.
“The Afro-American Presence in African American Literature” (Review) Calalloo, Volume 13 (1): 150-156.
“To Die of Old Age in a Foreign Country” (short fiction) Caliban, Volume 8, 1990: 20-22.
“When the Jumbie Bird Calls” (play) Roots and Blossoms: African American Plays for Today. Ed. Daphni Nitiri. Detroit: Bedford Publishers, 1991: 101-160.
You Alone Are Dancing (novel). London: Pepal Tree Press, 1990.
“The Green Card” (short story) Indiana Review, Volume 12, Winter 1988: 38-48.
“On A Point of Order” (short story) Witness, Volume 1, Summer 1987: 9-15.
“Small Island Pride” (short story) Journal of Caribbean Studies, Volume 1, 1980: 176-183.
“Shango” (short story) Caribbean Review, Volume V111, Fall 1979: 26-32.

Recent Fiction Readings and Performances:
Numerous sites in Namibia and South Africa. June 2012
Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center. Asheville, NC. Reading from Nina Simone manuscript—Mississippi God-Damn. March 23rd, 2012.
Mitchell Community College, Statesville, North Carolina. March 1st, 2012.
Poetry Center, and several other sites in Dublin, Ireland. At the invitation of the 
American Embassy, Dublin, Ireland. May 5-7, 2011.
The American Center, American Embassy, Prague, Czech Republic, May 10, 2011.
Prague International Book Fair, May 11, 2011.
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, October 6, 2010 (Hard Times Literary 
Keynote speaker for the International conference on Caribbean Literature, Trinidad, West 
Indies. November 3, 2010.
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, November 18, 2010.
US Embassy, Dublin, Ireland. July, 2010 University of South Carolina- Upstate, 
Spartanburg, SC, February 2010.
Keynote speaker and performer-Litup Festival, Singapore. July, 2010—includes reading 
at the US embassy in Singapore.
Harper Woods High School, Harper Woods, Michigan, March, 2010. 
A number of schools and universities in Singapore, Malaysia, and Tajikistan, March 
a\and May, 2009.
Charlotte Writers Club, Davidson, North Carolina, February, 2008.
Numerous sites in Brazil, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Tajikistan in 2008.
Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, California, July, 2006.
Globe Bookstore, Prague, Czech Republic, March, 2006.
Davidson College, February, 2006.
Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville, North Carolina, September 2005.
Springfield Arts Writers Conference, September, 2005.
American Cultural Center, Calcutta, India, September 2005.
Saint Lawrence University, Canton, New York, November, 2005.
Shaman Drum Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Michigan, March, 2005
Detroit Arts Festival, Detroit, Michigan, June 2005
Far Field Writers Conference, Roscommon, Michigan, July 2005.
Scholarship keynote speaker, Continuing Education for Women, The University of 
Michigan, Ann Arbor. April 20th, 2005.
U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassador to Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia, February 
13-March 9th, 2005. Numerous readings throughout the three countries.
Invited writer: Sewanee, University of the South’s Black History Month Keynote 
speaker, February, 2005.
Invited writer: Central Piedmont Community College Literary Festival, March 22, 2005.
Keynote speaker/performer for the 6th International Conference on Caribbean Literature, 
University of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix. November 2004.
Miami International Book Fair, Miami, Florida. November 2004.
Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan. October, 2004.
Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. October 2004.
Panama City, Panama on a U.S. State Department sponsored tour, February 2004.
Njemena, Chad, on a U.S. State Department sponsored tour, October-November, 2003.
Cardinal Stritch University, Wisconsin. April 2003.
National Coalition of 100 Black Women: “Celebrate Women: A Reading of Mind, Body and Soul” UNC, Charlotte. March 2003.
Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan, March 2003.
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Central Asia, as the first African American Cultural
Ambassador for Black History and Literature, under the sponsorship of the United 
States State Department. February-March, 2003.
Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan. First Writer in Residence, March 2002
Far Field Retreat for Writers, Michigan, May 2002
Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, spring term, 2001.
Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 2001.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, March, 2001.
Cannon School, Concord, North Carolina, February, 2000
Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia. Fall, 1999.
Kirtland College Summer Writing Camp, Michigan. Summer, 1999.
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Winter, 1999.
Michigan State University’s Caribbean Students Association. Spring, 1999.
Parkview Elementary School. Winter, 1999; 1998.
Miami International Book Fair. Fall, 1998.
Yari Yari International Women’s Writers Conference, New York University. Fall 1998.
Charlotte Country Day School, winter 1996.
Syracuse University, winter 1995.
Onandaga Community college, New York, Winter, 1995.
Oswego-SUNY, winter, 1995.
Olivet College, winter, 1995.
Interlochen Arts Academy, winter 1995.
Kirtland Community College, winter 1995.
St. John’s College, Belize, Central America, fall 1994.
The University of Hawaii, Honolulu, summer 1994.
Jackson Community College, Michigan, 1993, 1994.
Muskegon Community College, Michigan, 1994
Community College System in Fort Worth, Texas. 1995.
Oberlin College, Ohio, 1994
Adrian College, Michigan, 1994
Davidson College, North Carolina, 2001, 1998, 994.
Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, 1990; 1995.
Western Michigan University, 1993.
General Motors Institute, Michigan. 1991; 1992.
The University of Hawaii, 1992.
Miami International Book Fair, Miami, 1991; 1992.
Wayne State University, Michigan, 1989.
Saginaw Valley State College, Michigan. 1990.
The Michigan Council of the Arts Teachers Conference in Lansing (1991), 
Michigan College English Association Conference in Ohio, 1992.
Monroe Public Library. Lansing Public Library, Southfield Public Library,
Ann Arbor Public Library, 1987-1990

Recent Academic Papers and Public Lectures Presented
Paper presentation: African American Art and Politics: How African American Poetry Reflects the Modern Civil Rights Movement. 7th Annual International Conference on the Arts in Society. John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. 23-25 July, 2012.
Lecture on African American Literature at The University of Johannesburg, South Africa, June 19th, 2012.
Lecture on Writing and Literature at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa , June 19th, 2012
Lecture on Famous African American Inventors at the Mae Jamison U.S. Science Reading Room, Mamelodi. South Africa. June 19th. 2012.
Lecture: “Feminism and American Public Policy”, Charles University, Prague, Czech 
Republic. October 5, 2006.
Lecture: “Diversity From an International Perspective,” Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, 
Michigan, October 6t, 2006.
Lecture: “The Influence of the Pan African Movement on Harlem Renaissance Writers”
to the Department of English and American Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, 
Czech Republic, February 21, 2006.
Lecture: “African American Woman Writers” Philosophical Faculty, Palacky University, 
Olomouc, Czech Republic, February 21, 2006.
Lecture: “African American Women Writers—Hurston, Morrison, and Walker” at the 
Institute for Gender Studies, Anglo-American College, Lazenska 4, Prague, Czech 
Lecture: “Why Zora Stayed and other issues in African American Women Writing” at 
the Institute of Translatology, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. February
23rd, 2006.
Lecture: “Celebrating Community: A Tribute to Black Fraternal, Social, and Civic 
Associations” English Department, University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech 
Republic, February 23rd, 2006.
Keynote Speaker, American Cultural Center, Calcutta, India, by invitation of the U.S. 
State Department: “When American Literature Leaves Home”, August 29th, 2006.
Fifteen lectures on African American Literature delivered at universities in Tunisia, 
Libya, and Morocco during February-March, 2005 as a Cultural Ambassador for the 
United Stated Department of State.
“Canonizing Czech Literature” presented at the 21SVU Congress, Pilzen, Czech 
Republic, July 2002.
“Teaching Caribbean Literature” at Caribbean Literature Conference, University of 
Miami, 2001.
“Pesticides and Suicides in Ghana,” presented to the Faculty Research group, Davidson 
College, February 1, 2000.
“Pesticides and Suicides among Indian (India and Trinidad) and Ghanaian Women”
Presented jointly with Professor Lakhi Sabarathnam, February 2000

Recent Professional and student-related research and study travel:
Czech Republic to conduct research on Czech surrealist writers. On-going.
The Czech Republic and Poland to study “The Human and Political Environment of 
Central Europe”: June-July, 2001
Austria, Italy, and France for travel writing journal: July 2001.
Hong Kong, fiction related research: March 2001.
Ghana, research on Pesticide Use Among Farmers in Ashanti Region, Summer, 1998.
Morocco, fiction related research: July-August, 1998.
Site director, Davidson at Cambridge Program, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England. (Supervision of 23 students attending classes and conducting research.): Summer 2000.
Site director, Davidson in Ghana Program, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.
Supervision of 12 students during study and service projects. Summer, 1999
Faculty director, student service projects, Haiti, December 1998-January, 1999