Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Tyehimba Jess  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History Non-Fiction Poetry

Born: Detroit, Michigan

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Jess graduated from the University of Chicago and taught at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Biographical and Professional Information

Tyehimba Jess is a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, and has received fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. A veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, he exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TEDxNashville Conference, and received a 2016 Lannan Literary Award. Jess' fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Beyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago's Guild Complex, Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry.Jess has taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island in New York.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

leadbelly: poems (National Poetry Series)
ISBN: 0974635332

Wave Books. 2005

“It is exhilarating to be invited into a world so large and muscular, so rooted in history, a world where so much is at stake.”—Brigit Pegeen Kelly, National Poetry Series judge

A biography in poems, leadbelly examines the life and times of the legendary blues musician from a variety of intimate perspectives and using a range of innovative poetic forms. A collage of song, culture, and circumstance, alive and speaking.

Tyehimba Jess’ numerous awards include fellowships from the NEA and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. A native of Detroit, he is a proud alumnus of the Chicago Green Mill Slam teams and Cave Canem. His first nonfiction book is African American Pride: Celebrating our Achievements, Contributions, and Enduring Legacy (Citadel Press, 2003).

Olio
ISBN: 1940696208

Wave Books. 2016

-WINNER OF 2017 PULITZER PRIZE IN POETRY
-WINNER OF ANISFIELD-WOLF AWARD IN POETRY

-WINNER OF SOCIETY OF MIDLAND AUTHORS AWARD IN POETRY
-BLACK CAUCUS OF AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION OUTSTANDING

CONTRIBUTION TO PUBLISHING CITATION

-2016 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for poetry
-2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist
-2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award finalist
-Named a top poetry book of spring 2016 by Library Journal

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.

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.


Detroit native Tyehimba Jess is

a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, and has received fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team. He exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TEDxNashville Conference, and received a 2016 Lannan Literary Award.

Jess is an Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island.


Awards

-- Leadbelly

Winner, National Poetry Series, 2004

Best Poetry Books List, Library Journal, 2005

Best Poetry Books List, Black Issues Book Review, 2005 Olio

Winner, Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 2017

Winner, Anisfield-Wolf Award in Poetry

Poetry Award, Society of Midland Authors

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation, Black Caucus of American Library Association

Finalist for poetry, National Book Critics Circle Award, 2016

Finalist, PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, 2017

Finalist, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, 2017

Top poetry book of spring, Library Journal, 2016

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Starred Review, Library JournalOther Awards:

Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, 2001

Lannan Literary Award in Poetry, 2016