Poet and writer Alfred Bennett (A.B.) Spellman was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He earned a BS in political science from Howard University, where he also attended law school. He published his first book of poems, The Beautiful Days, in 1964 while working as a jazz music reviewer. His second book, Things I Must Have Known (2008), received an honorable mention from the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award and was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.
Spellman has written essays and poetry for Rhythm Magazine and taught at Morehouse College, Emory University, Rutgers, and Harvard University. In 1975, he became director of the Arts in Education Study Project for the National Endowment of the Arts, where he held a series of positions, culminating in his role as deputy chairman for the Office of Guidelines, Panel and Council Operations. Spellman retired from the NEA in 2005; his service to the organization is honored by the A.B. Spellman Award for Jazz Advocacy. In addition to writing, Spellman has served on a number of arts panels, including the Advisory Group on the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution.
Poems by A. B. Spellman