Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Visits NMU

Tyehimba Jess

Detroit native and Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry book author Tyehimba Jess will be the featured guest at the next Northern Michigan University Visiting Writers Series event at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, in Peninsula II of the Northern Center.

The New York University alumnus and current professor of English at the College of Staten Islan, is the author of two collections of poetry, Leadbelly and Olio. The latter won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017, along with the Anisfield-Wolf Award, the Midland Society Author's Award in Poetry, an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and other honors.  

Published in 2016, Olio tunes in to the musical spirit of blues, work songs and church hymns through a medley of song, sonnet and narrative that unearth untold memoirs of African American performers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Memorializing resistance, adaptivity and the conquering of attempts at marginalization, Olio meshes poetry and performance to navigate communal experiences past and question the narratives of physical demarcations of identity.

Jess' earlier poetry collection, leadbelly, is a biography in poems that examines the life and times of the legendary blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter. Jess commemorates the man by employing unorthodox, innovative poetic forms that synthesize culture, history, song and memoir.

Jess' poetry has been largely celebrated and recognized, and it appears in numerous notable journals and publications, such as Angels of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century.

Learn more about him and his work at tyehimbajess.net/.

Prepared By

Ashley Kluting
Student Writer

Categories: Around NMU