"I think of my writing as an opportunity to make a reader more aware of the fact that emotions wield some power over our lives. These emotions lead to questions, and steady questioning leads to changes in one's thought, and then in one's life."
- Jericho Brown
There's a pounding heartbeat to Jericho Brown's poems. Rhythm-rich and immediate, they attack and interrogate the dark corners of human complacency and complicity with illuminating beauty and have helped forge his reputation as one of the brightest voices in poetry today. In his searing new book, "The Tradition," Brown confronts the normalization of evil in our society. Why and how have we become so accustomed to racial, familial, sexual and societal violence? Not an easy subject and not an easy collection, but Brown deftly balances the brutality with an inspiring thread of defiant survival - challenging us to question traditions in both public and private life.
Negotiating gay, black and Southern identity, all facets of his character coalesce with hardened authority to personalize the fear, heartbreak and vulnerability. "I strive to be clear - not obvious," Brown says. "I mean to write poems that are felt before they are understood." It's tantalizing craft that invites repeated visits, deeper investigation, progressive thinking.
Jericho Brown is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His first book of poetry won the American Book Award and his second book won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME magazine, The Bennington Review, The New York Times, The New Republic, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.