Webster alumna and St. Louis Poet Laureate Shirley LeFlore 1940 - 2019

May. 15, 2019

Shirley LeFlore was St. Louis' poet laureate. Her term ended in April.

Webster University alumna and St. Louis Poet Laureate Shirley LeFlore ’76, died Sunday morning. She was only the second poet laureate in the city’s history, and the first black woman to hold the position.

LeFlore graduated from Webster University with a degree in social science. Before she attended Webster, she performed with the famed Black Artist Group (BAG) and is one of only a few surviving original BAG members. She has performed all over the world including touring Europe as a featured artist with late R&B legend Fontella Bass.

After graduation, she taught artists in various school districts and educational programs throughout St. Louis City and St. Louis County and served as an assistant dean of students at Webster University. She has been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, wrote the play “Rivers of Women” and published “Brassbones & Rainbows,” a collection of her poems. LeFlore also is mentioned in Webster alumna and “Black-ish” television star Jenifer Lewis’ autobiography “The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir” as a person whose work had a profound influence on her outlook.

One of LeFlore’s poems can be found in the online magazine River Styx. She was sworn in as only the second poet laureate in St. Louis City’s history.

LeFlore is survived by her three daughters, Hope, Jacie and Lyah and her grandchildren Noelle, Jullian, Jordan, and Bella.

A visitation will take place on Thursday, May 16, 2019, at the McClendon Mortuary at 12140 New Halls Ferry Rd. in Florissant, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Funeral will take place on Friday, May 17. (11 a.m., visitation, noon service) at Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust St., in downtown St. Louis.


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