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Quincy Troupe lectures at the University of Connecticut.

 Digital Record


  • 1971 - 1988


Poet and journalist Quincy Troupe delivered 11 lectures over a 17 year period. Troupe spoke on 11/18/1975 (2015-0002/RR281), 1/24/1978 (2015-0002/RR282), 2/5/1980 (2015-0002/RR283), 3/24/1981 (2015-0002/RR284) 2/1/1983 (2015-0002/RR285), 1/31/1984 (2015-0002/RR286), 2/25/1986 (2015-0002/RR287), 1/27/1987 (2015-0002/RR288), 3/22/1988 (2015-0002/RR289), 4/12/1971 (2015-0002/RR313), and on an unidentified date (2015-0002/AC25).

Biographical / Historical

Quincy Thomas Troupe, Jr. was born July 22, 1939. As a teenager in 1955, he recalled hearing Miles Davis at a St. Louis, Missouri, fish joint, where some fellow patrons identified the 78 rpm juke-box record as "Donna", which was Davis' first recorded composition.

As a young man Troupe was athletic and attended Grambling State University on a basketball scholarship. However, after his first year he quit and subsequently joined the United States Army, where he was stationed in France and playing on the Army basketball team. While in France he had a chance encounter with the noted French Existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, who recommended that Troupe try his hand at poetry.

When he returned to civilian life, Troupe moved to Los Angeles, where he became a regular presence at the Watts Writers Workshop and began working in a more jazz-based style. It was on a tour with the Watts group that he first began his academic life as a teacher. The Watts Writers Workshop was located in a building that also had a theater, allowing members to do readings, workshops, plays and presentations. It was a meeting point for many in the Black Power movement, Black Arts Movement and the civil rights movement and through it Troupe met many individuals involved in other cities including Ishmael Reed (Umbra Group) and James Baldwin. In 1968, Troupe edited the anthology Watts Poets: A Book of New Poetry and Essays.

His work is associated with Black Arts Movement writers such as Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Wanda Coleman, Haki Madhubuti and Ishmael Reed, who were also friends. Their work was diverse but was strongly informed by world literature and jazz music.

Throughout the 1970s Troupe lived in New York, teaching at the College of Staten Island. During that time he was a regular on the poetry circuit, performing alone or in groups around the country.

In 1985 Spin magazine hired Troupe to write an exclusive two-part interview with Miles Davis, which led Simon & Schuster to him as co-author for Davis's autobiography. Miles: The Autobiography was published in 1990 and won an American Book Award for the authors, garnering them numerous positive reviews and accolades.

From 1991 to 2003 Troupe was professor of Caribbean and American literatures and creative writing at the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla, California.

On June 11, 2002, Troupe was appointed California's first poet laureate by then Governor Gray Davis. A background check related to the new political appointment revealed that Troupe had, in fact, never possessed a degree from Grambling; he attended for only two semesters in 1957–58 and then dropped out. After admitting that he had not earned a degree, he made the decision to resign, rather have it become a political issue for the Democratic Governor. As a consequence, Troupe resigned from the poet laureate's position in October 2002 and retired from his post at UCSD.

Shortly after the controversy, Troupe moved back to New York City.

The year 2006 saw the publication of his collaboration with self-made millionaire Chris Gardner on the latter's autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness. The book served as the inspiration for a film of the same name later that year starring Will Smith.

Other notable works by Troupe include James Baldwin: The Legacy (1989) and Miles and Me: A Memoir of Miles Davis (2000). He also edited Giant Talk: An Anthology of Third World Writing (1975) and is a founding editor of Confrontation: A Journal of Third World Literature and American Rag.

Troupe lives in New York City.

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Existence and Location of Originals

Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US