Professor Afaa Michael Weaver, formerly known as Michael S. Weaver, was born in 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, to working class parents. He attended public schools and graduated as a National Merit finalist at the age of sixteen. After two years at the University of Maryland, he entered the world of factory life alongside his father and uncles and remained a factory worker for fifteen years. These years were a literary apprenticeship during which he wrote and published poetry, short fiction, and freelance journalism. During that time he also started 7th Son Press and Blind Alleys, a literary journal.
His first book of poetry, Water Song, was published in 1985 as part of the Callaloo series. He received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) fellowship for poetry six months after signing the contract for the collection and left factory life to accept admission into Brown University's graduate writing program on a full university fellowship, where he completed his M.A., focusing on theater and playwriting. Concurrently, he completed his B.A. in Literature in English through Excelsior College.
Tess Onwueme, the Nigerian playwright, has given him the Ibo name "Afaa," meaning "oracle," while Dr. Perng Ching-hsi, of National Taiwan University has given him the Chinese name "Wei Yafeng," derived from "Wei" for flourishing or blossoming, and "Yafeng," the title of a section of poems from the Book of Songs, the oldest anthology of Chinese poetry.
Since Water Song, Weaver has published nine more collections of poetry, including Multitudes, Sandy Point, and The Ten Lights of God, all of which appeared in 2000. His full length play Rosa was produced in 1993 at Venture Theater in Philadelphia under a small-Equity contract. His short fiction appears in Gloria Naylor's Children of the Night and in Maria Gillan's Identity Lessons. "His latest book of poetry (2007) is The Plum Flower Dance/ poems1985 to 2005, published by the University of Pittsburgh press."
Weaver has been a Pew Fellow in poetry and taught at National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar. At Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, he is the Alumnae Professor of English and director of the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center. In addition, he is Chairman of the Simmons International Chinese Poetry Conference.