Gerald Barrax was born and spent his early childhood in Atalla, Ala. When he was ten, his family moved to Pittsburgh, Pa. Barrax began writing poems in his teens. After graduating from high school, he worked for a year in a steel mill to earn money for college. In 1952, Barrax enrolled at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to study pharmacy. When his money ran out a year later, he joined the US Air Force, serving from 1953 to 1957. While stationed in South Carolina, Barrax bought a copy of Poets’ Handbook by Clement Wood and began studying it to improve his poetry. From 1958 to 1967, Barrax worked for the US Post Office in Pittsburgh as a clerk and a mail carrier. He re-enrolled at Duquesne in 1959 and graduated in 1963 with a BA in English. In 1967, Barrax began graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, earning an MA in 1969.
After graduation, Barrax and his family moved to North Carolina, where he became an English instructor at North Carolina Central University in Durham. In 1970, his first book of poetry, Another Kind of Rain, was published. The same year, Barrax joined the faculty of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, teaching American literature and poetry writing. After his retirement from North Carolina State in 1997, Barrax and his wife relocated to West Chester, Pa. Barrax has published a total of five books of poetry and written many poetry reviews. For more than twelve years, he edited the journal Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review. Barrax has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and has won awards from the city of Raleigh and the state of North Carolina for his contributions to fine arts.
Gerald Barrax writes poetry and poetry reviews. Major subjects of his poems are family relationships, death, and the black experience in contemporary America.
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Photo courtesy of the Alabama Writers' Forum.
Last updated on May 30, 2008.