Playwright & Novelist
An award-winning playwright, bestselling novelist, published poet and popular newspaper columnist, Pearl Cleage has earned praise from critics and from her peers for her passionate writing across several genres. An incredibly multi-faceted talent, Cleage offers a fresh perspective on the universal themes of cultural enrichment, social identity and the power of love. With the rhythms of Black life as her muse, she focuses on the experiences of love, sex and female empowerment that she sees as vital to the African American community. As the New York Times said: “Cleage writes with amazing grace and killer instinct.” Read More >
Cleage examines her own life and determines that she’s done “everything right but the money.” Equal parts affirmation of her own life choices and cautionary tale for independent women, it is a frank and funny examination of the joys and challenges facing American female baby boomers.
An unexpected commissioning from Oprah Winfrey found Cleage writing the poem that defined Winfrey’s 2005 Legends Weekend honoring African American women. She shares the process that produced the piece and her memories of that extraordinary weekend, taking listeners behind the scenes of the poem that became the centerpiece of the event.
A firm believer that “the personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself,” Cleage’s 2014 memoir, Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies Lessons and Love Affairs, revisits her journals from the 1970’s and 1980’s as a way of passing on the lessons she learned on her journey from naïve wife and young mother to full time professional writer and freewoman. Frank and funny, it’s an invitation to cross generational dialogue.
As a widely produced playwright, Cleage examines the unspoken cultural assumptions that continue to shape the choices made by producers and artistic directors as they go in search of “cultural diversity,” and explains why those choices stifle the growth of the American theatre.
Examining the dangers of voting based solely on race or gender identification, Cleage suggests that for the American democracy to continue to thrive, women must not be confined to a set of issues determined by their biology or excluded from the wider debate that often informs those issues.
"Everything was simply fabulous, she is a jewel. Mrs. Cleage was so personable. The audience loved her. I will never forget this event as long as I live."
"To say that she was awesome is an understatement. People are still raving about her. Her words came out as if they were a part of the air! She touched our souls. I am truly considering booking her for another event next year."
"Excellent! Pearl did a wonderful job; exactly what we envisioned. She is such a beautiful and giving person. We love her!"
"Ms. Cleage is an engaging speaker who knows how to captivate an audience. She was also a very gracious guest."
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