Lamont Poet Tyehimba Jess

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.

The Entire Historical Archive of The Exonian is Now Available Online

In the spring of 1878, two roommates in Abbot Hall got the idea of starting a student-run newspaper. They soon invited a third Exonian to join them. None of them seemed dissuaded by their complete lack of experience in newspaper work or even in managing a business. Their first obstacle was overcoming the solid opposition of the powerful PEA faculty, which had rejected all past initiatives to give student journalism a foothold: they doubted a student newspaper could succeed financially, believed that it would interfere with the students’ studies, and (probably not least of all) didn’t want to invite scurrilous attacks and bumptious opinionizing.

However, a somewhat more liberal, experimenting attitude with regard to extra-curricular activity seemed to be taking hold at Exeter at this time: the first baseball and football teams were both organized that same year. The three Exonians’ persistence won the faculty over, and The Exonian was born. It now has the distinction of being the oldest continuously running secondary school newspaper in the country.

The Exonian is an invaluable historical resource for the history of our school, and indeed for the history of secondary education. Until now, access to back issues has been limited to fragile bound volumes in the Academy  Archives, but we are now happy to announce that the entire run of the newspaper, back to volume 1, issue 1 of April 6, 1878, is available online at!

Visitors to the site will be able to search and browse the entire historical archive of the newspaper, and clip and save articles as images or text. We invite you to explore the length and breadth of Academy history from the student’s perspective and satisfy your curiosity about questions like these:

  • In what year would you read, “Telephones have made their appearance among the students. There’s nothing like keeping abreast of the times”?
  • How long were tobacco advertisements featured in The Exonian, and when did they go away?
  • What did Exonian editors say about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Harkness gift, coeducation, and visitation policies?
  • How awesome a hockey player was Exeter’s new Admissions intern Yuna Evans ’13 really?

All but the last ten years of issues were created from scanning microfilm copies from the Academy Archives (more recent issues were derived from PDFs). The text rendered from the scanning process (optical character recognition, or OCR) is about 99% accurate. This means that inevitably some of the searchable text was inaccurately captured. Users of the archive are therefore invited to register and help improve its quality even more. (Try it out – you may find the “work” of text correction to be strangely satisfying and habit-forming!)

Peter Nelson
Head, Archives & Special Collections

Library Proctors 2017-2018

This year we have nine proctors helping out at the library during our evening hours.  From 7-9pm, these senior day student leaders will take turns helping library staff monitor our upper floors to ensure a comfortable and quiet study environment.

Top row, left to right: Conor Moriarty, Gavin Hickey, Reed Ouellette, Curtis Haas, and Peter O’Keefe; Bottom row, left to right: Jordan Hillyard, Cora Payne, Emily Coombs, and Victoria Glidden.

In celebration of LGBTQ History Month this October, the Class of 1945 Library will host the exhibition Pioneering Voices: Portraits of Transgender People, a touring photo-text display created by the award-winning Family Diversity Projects of Amherst, Massachusetts.  Pioneering Voices coincides with the Lamont Gallery’s exhibition of Queer Kids which will be on display from September 12 through October 21st.

Pioneering Voices, with photographs by Jack Pierson and Gigi Kaeser and interviews edited by Peggy Gillespie and Jack Pierson, introduces people who identify as transgender or gender queer, and their partners and children. Through first-person interviews and color photographs, this exhibit seeks to challenge damaging myths and stereotypes about transgender people, and to educate viewers about this often marginalized group of people and the challenges they face.

Family Diversity Projects (FDP) is a non-profit educational organization founded by exhibit creators, Peggy Gillespie (interviewer/editor) and Gigi Kaeser (photographer). They have created seven photo-text exhibits (three of which have been published in book form including Love Makes A Family: Portraits of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People and their Families) to help eliminate prejudice, stereotyping, and harassment of people discriminated against due to race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, gender, class, and disability. The mission of FDP is to propel forward a world where all people and family structures are recognized, valued and fully supported.

The photographs will be on display in the Library Commons on the ground floor, during the entire month of October. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

More information on Pioneering Voices and the Family Diversity Project can be found here:

The Library’s 2017 Summer Concert Series: A Chamber Music Lover’s Delight

The Library is pleased to announce the dates for its 2017 Summer Concert Series, which will be held on five consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning on July 5. All concerts will be held in the Library’s Rockefeller Hall at 7pm, and they are free and open to the public.

Halcyon Music Festival Artistic Director Heng-Jin Park (photo by Kate Lemmon)

The series will open with an encore performance by the Halcyon Music Festival, under the leadership of Artistic Director Heng-Jin Park, on July 5. The group will perform duos and trios for a combination of strings and piano by composers Zoltán Kodály, César Franck and Johannes Brahms. The series continues on July 12 with a program of four-hand piano works featuring P.E.A. piano faculty members Barbara O’Brien and Radmila Repczynski. On July 19, the Library will host the Faculty Jazz Quintet featuring a special guest, vocalist Donna Byrne. Brass lovers will enjoy the concert scheduled for July 26, which will feature classical, jazz and popular tunes performed by different combinations of brass instruments. The series will close on August 2 with a horn trio featuring P.E.A. violin instructor Deborah Boykan.

Inquiries about the Library’s Summer Concert Series may be directed to Drew Gatto by phone at (603)777-3308, or by email at Please join us in the Library this summer for a diverse program of small-group chamber music, presented in air-conditioned comfort!

Jazz vocalist Donna Byrne.

Class of 2017 Senior Bookmarks

Members of Phillips Exeter Academy’s Class of 2017 contributed a total of eighty-three different bookmarks to the Class of 1945 Library’s annual Senior Bookmark program.  The Library has continued to see increased participation over the twenty-four years of the program with this year’s 83 bookmarks being the largest collection ever.

Each spring, interested seniors contribute a short list of books they’d recommend others to read. This year’s recommendations span a wide variety of genres and literary time periods.

The printed bookmarks are now on display in Rockefeller Hall as is a corresponding exhibit of seniors’ recommended reading curated by Eileen Cusick and Tad Nishimura.

Bennett Fellow Walter B. Thompson

Please join us on Wednesday May 24th at 7 pm for a reading by 2016-2017 George Bennett Fellow, Walter B. Thompson.

Mr. Thompson’s fiction has appeared in The Writing DisorderCarolina QuarterlySlush Pile Magazine, and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in American Short Fiction.  While at Exeter he has been at work on a novel, tentatively titled Anchorage.

The George Bennett Fellowship, endowed by Elias B. M. Kulukundis ’55, honors Academy English instructor George Bennett by awarding a one-year fellowship to an author of outstanding promise who has not yet published a book.

The reading will take in Rockefeller Hall at the Class of 1945 Library. The event is free and open to the public.