Lorenzo Thomas was a well-known poet and literary figure in the United States. He rose to prominence as a result of his candid and forward-thinking writing about his own experiences throughout the African-American artistic movement. His boyhood was quite carefree, with the exception of local youngsters taunting him about his Spanish, which inspired him to learn English later. He became a member of the Umbra workshop during his college days, where he met several future black poets and became acquainted with the culture, music, and cinema of the African-American era of the 1960s and 1970s, which became a big component of his poetry collections and other scholarly works. His works primarily focused with Vietnam-related problems and the civil rights movement. ‘Chances Are Few,’ ‘Dancing on Main Street,’ ‘The Bathers,’ ‘Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and Twentieth-Century American Poetry,’ and ‘Don’t Deny My Name: Words and Music in the Black Intellectual Tradition,’ were among his notable works. Living Blues, Popular Music and Society, African American Review, Arrowsmith, and other magazines have all published some of his work. He served in the Navy in Vietnam and worked for almost 20 years at Texas Southern University and University of Houston-Downtown, in addition to his writing career.
Childhood and Adolescence
Lorenzo Thomas was born in the Republic of Panama on August 31, 1944, to a pharmacist father and a community activist mother. When he was four years old, his family moved to New York City and lived in the Bronx and Queens.
In 1968, he received his bachelor’s degree from Queens College in New York City.
Career of Lorenzo Thomas
While at Queens College, he was a member of the Umbra workshop, which affected his poetry tremendously. Other members included David Henderson, Tom Dent, Ishmael Reed, and Larry Neal. He was a member of New York City’s Black Arts Movement, which exposed him to the city’s political and racial rights struggles, as well as black music, American popular culture, and movies of the time. ‘A Visible Island’ (1966), ‘Dracula’ (1973), and ‘Framing the Sunrise’ were among his early poetry books (1975).
In 1971, he joined the Navy as a military advisor and was stationed in Vietnam after graduation. In 1973, he left the Navy and moved to Houston, where he worked as a writer-in-residence at Texas Southern University (TSU).
At TSU, he was in charge of editing the magazine ‘Roots’ and leading writing workshops for the newly-established Black Arts Center’s artists-in-the-schools program.
He left TSU in 1984 to become an English professor at the University of Houston-Downtown, where he taught for nearly two decades and directed the Cultural Enrichment Center. He helped organize the Juneteenth Blues Festival in Houston and other Texas locations. Poems like ‘Dirge for Amadou Diallo,’ ‘Coffles,’ and ‘Psalm’ portrayed the violence that African Americans faced in the United States during the 1960s. ‘Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and Twentieth-Century American Poetry’ (2000) and ‘Don’t Deny My Name: Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition’ (2008) were his most recent writings, both of which emphasized African-American culture.
Living Blues, Arrowsmith, Blues Unlimited (England), African American Review, and Ploughshares, among others, published his literary works. He also contributed scholarly papers to American Literary Scholarship, Dictionary of Literary Biography, African American Encyclopedia, and Gulliver’s Travels, in addition to writing book reviews for Houston Chronicle (Germany).
Major Projects of Lorenzo Thomas
‘Chances Are Few’ (1979), which received an extended second edition in 2003, and ‘Dancing on Main Street’ were two of his most popular poetry books (2004). ‘The Bathers,’ ‘Es Gibt Zeugen,’ and ‘Sing the Sum Up: Creative Writing Ideas from African-American Literature’ are among his other well-known works.
Achievements & Awards
In the year 2000, his book ‘Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and Twentieth-Century American Poetry’ won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. He was awarded the Houston Festival Foundation Award as well as a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Estimated Net Worth
Lorenzo is one of the wealthiest poets and one of the most well-known. Lorenzo Thomas’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Because Spanish was his first language, this American poet struggled to communicate with children (during his childhood), who considered his conversation amusing. As a result, he struggled to learn English fluently, which piqued his interest in creative writing.