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April 22, 2010 Volume 31, No. 28

Anand Prahlad

Anand Prahlad

Anand Prahlad, professor of English, College of Arts and Science

Anand Prahlad is one of the foremost scholars in African-American and New World African Folklore. When he arrived at Mizzou in 1990, his work revolved around writing, publishing and teaching poetry, but eventually he focused on his scholarship. Over the years, he has written several books, including African-American Proverbs in Context, and Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music. He is editor of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore, featuring more than 7,000 essays by more than 140 scholars. In addition to editing the work, Prahlad wrote 40 of the individual essays included in the three-volume project. 

A talented musician and songwriter, and an accomplished poet, Prahlad integrates his scholarship with creative projects. He plays guitar, piano, percussion, bass and the mbira, an African thumb piano. His music mixes Piedmont country blues and Afro-Caribbean styles with poetic lyrics. In 2008, he released a CD of original music titled Hover Near.

Although his career is marked by tremendous productivity in creative work as well as scholarship, he manages to find ample time and energy to serve as an innovative and inspiring teacher and mentor. He has offered courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels in subject matter that includes creative writing, folklore and literature, and he consistently earns high praise for teaching. 

Many of his courses deal with the topic of race. In his teaching philosophy, Prahlad explains that fruitful discussions about divisive issues require that a conducive atmosphere be established early each semester. He works hard to make the classroom a place where all students can be assured that their perspectives are valued. 

Beyond the classroom, Prahlad shares himself with his community. One example is the Poets in School project he developed with the Columbia Public Schools in which Mizzou’s faculty and students conduct poetry workshops with local children to help them develop their poetic voices.