Brenda Marie Osbey is an author of poetry and prose nonfiction in English and French. Her books include her collected poems, All Souls: Essential Poems (LSU Press, 2015); History and Other Poems (Time Being Books, 2013); All Saints: New and Selected Poems (LSU Press, 1997), which received the American Book Award; Desperate Circumstance, Dangerous Woman (Story Line Press, 1991); In These Houses (Wesleyan University Press, 1988); and Ceremony for Minneconjoux (Callaloo Poetry Series, 1983; University Press of Virginia, 1985). She is the author also of a series of Kongo-New Orleans libretti, including Sultane au Grand Marais (Rites & Reason Theatre, December, 2011).
Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, anthologies and collections including Callaloo; Obsidian; Essence; Renaissance Noire; Southern Review; Early Ripening: American Women's Writing Now; The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry; 2PLUS2: A Collection of International Writing; Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology; Epoch; The American Voice; Illuminations: An International Magazine of Contemporary Writing; Poet Lore; Southern Literary Journal; Atlantic Studies: Literary, Historical and Cultural Perspectives; and The American Poetry Review.
Her essays on art, music and culture have been published in The American Voice, The Georgia Review, BrightLeaf, Mondes Francophones, Southern Literary Journal, Creative Nonfiction and Renaissance Noire. Edited works include poetry features for Indiana Review, Poet Lore, War|Scapes, Illuminations and, most recently, Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems, Edited and with an Introduction by Brenda Marie Osbey (African Poetry Book Series, 2016). Osbey's most recent translations appear in Renaissance Noire (Fall 2018).
For more than twenty-five years she has researched and recorded the history of the Faubourg Tremé, a community founded by free Blacks in New Orleans. Her series, “Faubourg Tremé: Community in Transition,” was published as a regular feature in the New Orleans Tribune (1990–97). "Notes from France," her series on racism in contemporary France, was featured in Gambit (2004). Her essay, “Les indigènes sont agités: la Nouvelle-Orléans à la Suite de l’Orage” (“The Natives Are Restless: New Orleans in the Wake of the Storm”) was co-commissioned by the Plaine Commune district of France and the Consulat Général de la Nouvelle-Orléans and published by Médiathèques de Plaine Commune in 2007.
Studies of her work appear in such critical texts as Summoning Our Saints: Poetry and Prose of Brenda Marie Osbey by John Wharton Lowe (Lexington Books | Rowman & Littlefield, (2019); Southscapes: Geographies of Race, Region and Literature by Thadious M. Davis (University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women by Lynn Keller (U. Chicago Press, 1997); The Future of Southern Letters, edited by Jefferson Humphries and John Lowe (Oxford, 1996); and such reference works as Contemporary Authors; Oxford Companion to African American Literature (1997); Dictionary of Literary Biography (Oxford, 1997); and Dictionnaire des Créatrices (Editions des Femmes, 2011). Her work has been the subject of panels at conferences of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL), Modern Language Association (MLA), College Language Association (CLA) and Furious Flower African American Poetry Conference.
She has been a resident fellow of the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Millay Colony, the Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France), Maison Dora Maar (Ménerbes, France) and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, Harvard University. She is the 2018-19 Emilia Galli Struppa Fellow of Virginia Humanities, recipient of the 2014 Langston Hughes Award, and has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and others.
In 2005–2007, she served as the first peer-selected poet laureate of Louisiana. During her tenure of service, she toured the United States presenting weekly readings, lectures and symposia advocating the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. From 2011 through 2015, she served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. Most recently, she was Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Osbey is a New Orleans native.