Poet, novelist, professor, Fresno State alumna Sherley Anne Williams returned to Fresno State for this talk on February 5, 1986, in the Conley Art Auditorium (CA 101).
“I hope that in the poems that I read tonight, about Fresno and the Valley, that you will recognize some of the landscape and some of the experiences.”
Williams was eight years old when her father died of tuberculosis and 16 years old when her mother died of a heart attack. She graduated from Edison High School in Southwest Fresno in 1962. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Fresno State in 1966 and her master’s degree in American literature from Brown University in 1972. The next year, she was hired as a professor of African-American Literature at UC San Diego. In 1975 she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for her poetry book “Peacock Poems.” Her second poetry book, “Some One Sweet Angel Chile” earned her another National Book Award nomination and an Emmy award for her television performance of poems from the book.
Williams went on to write several more award-winning books. She was also featured on several jazz and blues albums, and served as a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana and visiting professor at Sweet Briar College and Stanford University.
Williams passed away in 1999 after succumbing to cancer.