Essex Hemphill

Essex Hemphill was a writer, poet, performance artist, editor and activist who helped energize the Black gay movement. He was the second oldest of five children. He was born in Chicago and raised in Washington, DC.

Hemphill is the author of Earth Life(1985) and Conditions (1986). In 1986 he received a fellowship for poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). His poems have appeared in Obsidian, Black Scholar, Callaloo, Mouth of the Dragon, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Essence. Hemphill contributed to In The Life(1986) the historic collection of literature by Black gay men, edited by Joseph Beam. He also contributed to Tongues Untied a collection of poems by Black gay men and to two films: Marlon Riggs' Tongues Untied and Isaac Julien's" Looking for Langston.

He was responsible for completing Brother to Brother the companion anthology to In The Life, which was begun by Joseph Beam, before his death in 1988.

Hemphill died on November 4, 1995 due to complications related to HIV/AIDS. Hemphill touched many lives. What follows is a tribute.

main page] Last updated: 11 June 1997 by Chuck Tarver