“Michael S. Harper, whose allusive, jazz-inflected poems interwove his personal experiences as a black man with an expansive view of a history shared by black and white Americans, and who was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry in 1978, died on Saturday. He was 78.
His death was confirmed by Gale Nelson, the academic program director for literary arts at Brown University, where Mr. Harper taught for more than 40 years. Details on where he died and the cause were not immediately available.
Mr. Harper’s abundant gifts were on display in one of his earliest poems, “Dear John, Dear Coltrane,” an elegy composed just before the saxophonist John Coltrane’s death in 1967…“