Author Visit: Olio by Tyehimba Jess
2017 Pulitizer Prize Winner! Detroit native Tyehimba Jess with OLIO
Part fact, part fiction, Tyehimba Jess's much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.
Jess's first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the "Best Poetry Books of 2005." Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000 - 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TEDxNashville Conference. Jess is an Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island
2016 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for poetry
2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist
2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award finalist
2017 Pulitizer Prize Winner
Named a top poetry book of spring 2016 by Library Journal
So, while I lead this choir, I still find that
I'm being led...I'm a missionary
mending my faith in the midst of this flock...
I toil in their fields of praise. When folks see
these freedmen stand and sing, they hear their God
speak in tongues. These nine dark mouths sing shelter;
they echo a hymn's haven from slavery's weather.