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), which 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 Please, Terrance 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.