Jericho Brown is one of those rare people today who can be called a famous poet, and he’s Wichita State University’s 2019 Distinguished Visiting Poet.
He’ll read some of his works and officially release his newest collection on Tues., April 9, at 5:30 p.m. at WSU’s Ulrich Museum of Art.
More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1253815684799767/
Heralded as one of the most gifted and lyrical poets of his generation, Brown is the author of “Please,” “The New Testament,” and “The Tradition,” which will be newly released at this reading.
His poems brim over with a transformative power rooted in both sensuality and the spirit. Claudia Rankine says “To read Jericho Brown’s poems is to encounter devastating genius.” Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award and has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. He directs the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.
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.”
Below are some samples of his work:
Aster. Nasturtium. Delphinium. We thought
Fingers in dirt meant it was our dirt, learning
Names in heat, in elements classical
Philosophers said could change us. Star Gazer.
Foxglove. Summer seemed to bloom against the will
Of the sun, which news reports claimed flamed hotter
On this planet than when our dead fathers
Wiped sweat from their necks. Cosmos. Baby’s Breath.
Men like me and my brothers filmed what we
Planted for proof we existed before
Too late, sped the video to see blossoms
Brought in seconds, colors you expect in poems
Where the world ends, everything cut down.
John Crawford. Eric Garner. Mike Brown.
I knew I had jet lag because no one would make love to me.
All the men thought me a vampire. All the women were
Women. In America that year, black people kept dreaming
That the president got shot. Then the president got shot
Breaking into the White House. He claimed to have lost
His keys. What’s the proper name for a man caught stealing
Into his own home? I asked a few passengers. They replied,
Jigger. After that, I took the red-eye. I took to a sigh deep
As the end of a day in the dark fields below us. Some slept,
But nobody named Security ever believes me. Confiscated—
My Atripla. My Celexa. My Cortisone. My Klonopin. My
Flexeril. My Zyrtec. My Nasarel. My Percocet. My Ambien.
Nobody in this nation feels safe, and I’m still a reason why.
Every day, something gets thrown away on account of long
History or hair or fingernails or, yes, of course, my fangs.
I was Mary once.
Somebody big as a beginning
Gave me trouble
I was too young to carry, so I ran
Off with a man who claimed
Not to care. Each year,
Come trouble’s birthday,
I think of every gift people get
they don’t use. Oh, and I
Pray. Lord, let even me
And what the saints say is sin within
My blood, which certainly shall see
Death—see to it I mean—
Let that sting
Last and be transfigured.