Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of two collections of poetry, Stellar Places (Moyer Bell, 2007) and Harbors and Spirits (Moyer Bell, 1999), and two works of fiction, the widely celebrated novel, Rails Under My Back (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000), which won The Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Fiction, and the story collection Holding Pattern (Graywolf Press, 2008), which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His other awards include a Whiting Writer's Award, a support grant from Creative Capital, The Chicago Public Library's Twenty-first Century Award, a Recognition for Pioneering Achievements in Fiction from the African American Literature and Culture Association, the 2003 Charles Angoff award for fiction from The Literary Review, and special citations from the Society for Midlands Authors and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. He has been a fellow at The Dorothy L. and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, a John Farrar Fellow in Fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and a Walter E. Dakins Fellow in Fiction at the Sewanee Writers' Conference.
Born in Chicago, Allen holds a Ph.D. in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently a faculty member in the writing program at the New School. He has taught also in the writing program at Columbia University and for many distinguished writers' conferences and programs around the world, including Cave Canem, the Summer Literary Seminars program in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Kwani? LitFest in Kenya, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, North Country Retreat for Writers of Color, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Farafina Trust Workshop in Lagos, the American Writers Festival in Singapore, and VONA. He is also fiction director for the Norman Mailer Center's Writers Colony in Provincetown, and he served as the Program Director for Literature for the Jahazi Literature and Jazz Festival in Zanzibar, East Africa.