Phillips Exeter Academy’s Class of 1945 Library opens its 2017–2018 Lamont Poetry Series on October 18th with a reading by award-winning poet Tyehimba Jess. Jess is the author of leadbelly (2005), named one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005” by Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review, and Olio (2016), winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A two-time member of the Chicago Green Mill Slam team (2000-2001), Jess was also Chicago’s Poetry Ambassador to Accra, Ghana. His work has been featured in numerous anthologies, including Soulfires: Young Black Men in Love and Violence (1996), Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry (2000), and Dark Matter 2: Reading the Bones (2004). He is the author of African American Pride: Celebrating Our Achievements, Contributions, and Enduring Legacy (2003), and Of Poetry & Protest: from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin (2016).
Additional honors and fellowships include a Whiting Writers’ Award in Poetry (2006), the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award (2001), the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship (2004), the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship (2000-2001), The Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award (2001), a Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center (2004-2005), the Whiting Fellowship (2006), as well as a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry (2016).
A former artist-in-residence with Cave Canem (1997, 1999, 2001), Jess has presented his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference, taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and is the Poetry and Fiction Editor of African American Review. He is currently a Professor in English at College of Staten Island in New York City. Jess earned his BA from the University of Chicago and his MFA from New York University.
As the poet Nikky Finney writes, “Tyehimba Jess is inventive, prophetic, wondrous. He writes unflinchingly into the historical clefs of blackface, black sound, human sensibility. After the last poem is read we have no idea how long we’ve been on our knees.”
The reading will be held from 7:30-8:30pm in the Assembly Hall, located on the second floor of the Academy Building on Front Street. The event is free and open to the public.