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Adisa, Opal

Opal Palmer Adisa

Years: 2000-2003


Diverse, innovative and multi-genre, Opal Palmer Adisa is an exceptional talent, nurtured on cane-sap and the oceanic breeze of Jamaica. Charismatic and informed, Adisa’s concerns span the gamut from children to the environment, and as such there is hardly any topic that she has not written about either in poetry, prose or essay.  A highly sought-after motivational speaker, Opal Palmer Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, Europe, South Africa, South American, and the Caribbean. An award-winning poet and prose writer Dr. Adisa has twelve titles to her credit, including the novel, It Begins With Tears (1997), proclaimed by Rick Ayers as one of the most motivational works for young adults.

Adisa has been a resident artist in internationally acclaimed residencies such as Bi-national Fulbright Institute (Egypt), Sacatar Institute (Brazil), McColl Center for Visual Art (North Carolina) and Headlines Center for the Arts (California, USA). Opal Palmer Adisa's work has been reviewed by Ishmael Reed, Al Young, and Alice Walker (Color Purple), who described her work as "solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love."

As an accomplished storyteller of African & Caribbean tales, Adisa follows in the tradition of the African "griot" weaving history and culture to entertain and inform about the intricacies and wonders of life. Through her imaginative characterizations of people, places and things, and her melodious voice, she is able to transport her listeners to the very wonderlands she creates.

An impassioned teacher and literary critic, Dr. Adisa is a full professor of Creative Writing, Literature & Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts. She has taught both graduate and undergraduate students at several universities including, Stanford University and University of California, Berkley & San Francisco State University. Her poetry, stories, essays and articles on a wide range of subjects have been collected in over 200 journals, anthologies and other publications, including Essence Magazine (December 2005 & February 2006) She has also conducted writing and storytelling workshops in elementary through high school, museums, churches and community centers, as well as in prisons and juvenile centers. Moreover, Dr. Adisa is a gifted diversity trainer, working with various institutions to engage them in issue of inclusion and fairness.

Dr. Opal Palmer Adisa is a vivacious, multi-talented speaker who will enthrall and mesmerize you.

Her work has been recognized in the form of many awards and honors, among them, Nomination as Poet Laureate for the State of California in 2002. 



(for lloyd walcott)


he came into

our home

with furrowed brows

            seeking in his sister           

            the parent

            he never had

this man              my uncle

looking nothing

like my mother

            no ready smile

            no burnt cork skin

                        just a tentative artist

who knew the smell

of the kitchen                       

the feel of a knife

that unfolds a cabbage

                        as well as acrylic brushes

                        on canvas

                                    it wasn’t his desire

                                    to prepare food

                                    for the rich to savour

                                    or to take on a wife           

                                    or sire sons & a daughter           

                                    who might need his support

all he really wanted 

was to paint the landscape

so others might notice it

sketch tubby women

languishing under domesticity

carve gods from wood

and be an artist