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Jericho Brown

The New Testament

Copper Canyon Press

2015 Poetry

The New Testament
Jericho Brown was born Nelson Demery III, raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, and graduated magna cum laude from Dillard University in New Orleans. He worked as a speech writer to the city’s mayor and completed an MFA from the University of New Orleans before earning his doctorate in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston.

Brown won the prestigious Whiting Writers award in 2009 and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Krakow Poetry Seminary in Poland, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, where he worked on his second poetry collection, The New Testament. An assistant professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, Brown is celebrated for his intense musicality, lyrical clarity and muscular impact. “Every last word is contagious” he writes to end the poem Heartland.

 

Here is his poem ‘N’em

They said to say goodnight
And not goodbye, unplugged
The TV when it rained. They hid
Money in mattresses
So to sleep on decisions.
Some of their children
Were not their children. Some
Of their parents had no birthdates.
They could sweat a cold out
Of you. They’d wake without
An alarm telling them to.
Even the short ones reached
Certain shelves. Even the skinny
Cooked animals too quick
Too catch. And I don’t care
How ugly one of them arrived,
That one got married
To somebody fine. They fed
Families with change and wiped
Their kitchens clean.
Then another century came.
People like me forgot their names.

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Blog Posts about Jericho Brown

REVIEW: "The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race"

There are 108 tally marks on the cover of The Fire This Time, the new essay collection that brings forth 18 perspectives from a new generation of writers, working in the tradition of James Baldwin. Each mark represents a black life lost too soon, a visual representation of the urgency of #BlackLivesMatter. In the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013, Jesmyn Ward went to Twitter to share her frustration, but found the platform too ephemeral. She was much more struck by the pertinence of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. Ward... Read More →

Cleveland-Area Students Get A Dose Of Anisfield-Wolf Poetry, Craft Their Own Verses (Listen In!)

Students from two Cleveland-area schools and one community center gathered for a poetry slam this April.National Poetry Month, celebrated every April for the past 20 years, became a little less abstract for Cleveland students this spring. This year the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards embedded local graduate students in two Cleveland-area elementary schools and a community center for an eight-week poetry residency.  Ryan Lind, Ali McClain, Karly Milvet, and Amanda Stovicek -- all students in the NEOMFA creative writing consortium -- drew inspiration... Read More →

[Must Read] Jericho Brown On Langston Hughes' Poem "Suicide's Note"

When Jericho Brown won his Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, he spoke of his awe of Langston Hughes, calling his discovery of Hughes’ poems in a Louisiana public library the equivalent of falling in love. He also reminded the audience at Playhouse Square that Hughes was still a teenager, newly graduated from Central High School in Cleveland in 1920, when he wrote The Negro Speaks of Rivers. “Every time I think of an 18-year-old writing a poem that great,” Brown deadpanned, “I really hate Langston Hughes.” Now Brown has returned to this... Read More →

WATCH: Jericho Brown On Winning The 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Prize: "The Writing I Do Is Part Of A Tradition"

"My idols sat around and read my book, y'all," Jericho Brown remarked from the podium at the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony. Moments later he launched into "Labor," a piece featured in his 2014 collection, The New Testament.  As is our tradition, we caught up with Brown in a few quiet moments before this year’s ceremony to hear his thoughts on being honored with the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for poetry: Jericho Brown, 2015 Anisfield-Wolf award winner for poetry from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo.   Read More →

READ: Jericho Brown's Striking New Poem, "The Tradition"

Poet Jericho Brown, winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year, has written a 14-line poem that begins with the names of flowers and concludes with the names of men.  He calls it “The Tradition.”  Brown notes, “The poet’s relationship to language and form is an addiction where what’s past is present, a video on loop. Not watching won’t make what that video says about our future go away.” He made this observation to accompany “The Tradition” as the American Academy of Poets sent it to some 300,000 readers August 7... Read More →

Meet Our 2015 Winners In And Around Cleveland This September

Anisfield-Wolf award winners are—almost by definition—civic minded. They continue a generous tradition of adding extra public conversations each September in Cleveland. For those readers whose schedules don’t allow them to attend the awards ceremony or who want more than one chance to hear these gifted writers, here are the details: Poet Marilyn Chin, a professor at San Diego State University, will read and discuss her work in Hard Love Province.  She will appear alongside John Carroll University’s Phil Metres, whose recent book... Read More →

Read Poet Jericho Brown's Letter To CNN's Wolf Blitzer Over Baltimore Coverage

"I want to hear you say there should be peaceful protests, not violent protests, in the tradition of Martin Luther King," CNN’s Wolf Blitzer lectured community activist Deray McKesson in a now infamous four-minute interview.   "You are suggesting that broken windows are worse than broken spines," McKesson answered, contrasting property damage with the injuries that killed Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody. Jericho Brown, winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year, recoiled at Blitzer’s distortion of King and decided to... Read More →

Meet Our 2015 Winners

The Cleveland Foundation today announced the winners of its 80th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. The 2015 recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity are: • Jericho Brown, The New Testament, Poetry • Marilyn Chin, Hard Love Province, Poetry• David Brion Davis, Lifetime Achievement• Richard S. Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, Nonfiction• Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings, Fiction “The new Anisfield-Wolf... Read More →
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