Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Zetta Elliott  

Pen Name: 


Born: 1972


Illinois Connection

Elliott currently lives in Evanston.

Biographical and Professional Information

Zetta Elliott is a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. She was born and raised in Canada, but has lived in the US for over 25 years. She earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003; she has taught at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, Hunter College, Bard High School Early College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. Her poetry has been published in New Daughters of Africa, We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, the Cave Canem anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto's Black Storytellers, and her plays have been staged in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago. Her essays have appeared in School Library Journal, The Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

She received the Childrens Literature Associations Article Award for her 2014 essay, The Trouble with Magic: Conjuring the Past in New York City Parks. She is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing, and has self-published numerous illustrated books for younger readers under her own imprint, Rosetta Press; 3 were named Best of the Year by the Bank Street Center for Childrens Literature, and Benny Doesnt Like to Be Hugged was a first-grade fiction selection for the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Dragons in a Bag, a middle grade fantasy novel, was published by Random House in 2018; the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) named it a Notable Childrens Book. Its sequel, The Dragon Thief, was named a Best Middle Grade Book of 2019 by CBC Books. Say Her Name, a young adult poetry collection, was published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in January 2020; A Place Inside of Me was published in July 2020 by FSG and was named a Notable Poetry Book by NCTE.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- ''Bird'', *Honor Award in Lee & Low Books New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. -- ''Ship of Souls'', *Booklist Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Title for Youth and was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award. -- ''The Door at the Crossroads,'', *finalist in the Speculative Fiction category of the 2017 Cybils Awards -- ''Melenas Jubilee'', *2017 Skipping Stones Honor Award. -- ''Dragons in a Bag'', *the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) named it a Notable Childrens Book.