Jericho Brown

Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet
American Book Award Winner
National Book Award Finalist

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • Jump-Start Your Engines Poetry Workshop
  • The Blues We Can Use: The Performer as Persona in Black Poetry
  • Poetry, Suicide, and Immortality
  • The Religion of the Moment vs The Spirit of the Poem
  • An Evening with Jericho Brown

Biography

“Erotic and grief-stricken, ministerial and playful, Brown offers his reader a journey unlike any other in contemporary poetry.” —Rain Taxi

“There are countless poets of the body, but the body in Brown’s poetry serves as a nexus of the corporeal and conceptual. The “body” of his work isn’t just a physical, individual one; it’s a stand-in for various (flawed) institutions of power and belief: national history, religion, mythology, the justice system.” —New York Times

“Brown’s poetry might be perceived as a speech act, an attempt to fight back against hate in its many guises.” —Glint Journal

Jericho Brown is the author of three collections of poetry: The Tradition (2019), a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry;  The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets; and Please (New Issues, 2008), which won the 2009 American Book Award.

The New York Times Book Review notes his most recent collection The Tradition: “In Brown’s poems, the body at risk — the infected body, the abused body, the black body, the body in eros — is most vulnerable to the cruelty of the world. But even in their most searing moments, these poems are resilient out of necessity, faithful to their account of survival, when survival is the hardest task of all: “So the Bible says, in the beginning, / Blackness. I am alive.”

About PleaseTerrance Hayes wrote, “This is the poetry of bloodship: the meaning of family, of love, of sexuality; the resonances of pain and the possibilities of redemption.” Of The New Testament, Craig Morgan Teicher said, in an NPR interview, “What’s most remarkable in these poems is that, while they never stop speaking through gritted teeth, never quite make the choice between hope and fear, they are always beautiful, full of a music that is a cross between the sinuous sentences of Carl Phillips, the forceful descriptions of Mark Doty, and hip rhythms of Terrance Hayes. They show Brown to be a part of a new guard of black and gay writers…unwilling in their writing to confine their identities. These poems offer an unlikely kind of hope: Brown’s ambivalence is evidence of a fragile belief in the possibility of change, of the will that makes change possible.” And as Claudia Rankine simply puts it, Jericho Brown’s poems offer their readers a window into his “devastating genius.”

Brown is the recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland; he was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Hurston Wright Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The Best American Poetry.

Jericho Brown grew up in Louisiana and worked as a speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before earning his PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans and graduated magna cum laude from Dillard University. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.

TESTIMONIALS

Yesterday Jericho came to campus and changed the lives of about 40 students and a few faculty. As typical, he was kind, generous, gracious, powerful, passionate, intelligent…it was a perfect day and the kids (and me, too) were covered in goosebumps and got teary-eyed occasionally. How many 17-18 year old high school students get to have a one-on-one encounter with a poet of Jericho’s power and stature? It was truly a special day and one none of us will ever forget. One girl said “well, my life just peaked. It’s all downhill from here.” —Maclay Prep

Jericho was engaging, generous, and brilliant with my class—they are definitely going to be life-long fans of his. And his reading was breathtaking. Often after these readings, people tell me they enjoyed the events, but this time, people have been thanking me for bringing Jericho—a whole other level of engagement. One normally non-effusive colleague even called his reading “life-changing.” —St Edwards University

Jericho was AMAZING during his visit to Babson. He was so engaged, so focused, so warm. His reading was simply extraordinary, both in the power of his reading/reciting of his poems, and in the generous and incisive Q&A he entertained afterward. I’ve been involved with the Thompson Visiting Poet Series for close to 25 years, and Jericho’s was one of the most memorable readings I’ve attended. And the comments and feedback in the days following—both from students and faculty and from those in the community beyond Babson—has been universally framed by praise and, well, awe. —Babson College.

Short Bio

Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019), which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Time, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry anthologies. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.

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