Pearl Cleage, Award-winning Playwright & Best-selling Author
Pearl Cleage is a fiction writer, playwright, poet, essayist, and journalist who has lived in Atlanta for more than thirty years. In her writing, Cleage draws on her experiences as an activist for AIDS and women’s rights, and she cites the rhythms of black life as her muse. Cleage’s first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, was an Oprah Book Club selection in 1998 and appeared on the New York Times best-seller list for nine weeks.
Throughout her career, Cleage has often been in the public eye. Her contribution to the Atlanta community has been steady and intense, finding expression through her columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Tribune; in the pages of Catalyst, a literary journal she cofounded and edited; and in her work as a faculty member at Spelman.
Cleage’s theatrical works include Bourbon at the Border, Blues for an Alabama Sky (1995) and Flyin’ West (1992). An anthology of her plays, Flyin’ West and Other Plays (1999), offers a penetrating look at the African American experience over the past hundred years. Blues for an Alabama Sky was performed in Atlanta as part of the 1996 Cultural Olympiad in conjunction with the 1996 Olympic Games. Cleage’s work has also appeared in such anthologies as Double Stitch, Black Drama in America, New Plays from the Women’s Project, and Contemporary Plays by Women of Color. Cleage has received numerous awards in recognition of her work, including the Bronze Jubilee Award for Literature in 1983 and the outstanding columnist award from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists in 1991.
Pearl is married to Zaron W. Burnett, Jr., with whom she frequently collaborates. She has one daughter Deignan and two grandchildren Chloe and Michael.