What does it mean to be a writer?
Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Jericho Brown on vulnerability, secret-keeping, and the beauty of not knowing
So, I cried through most of my IG Live interview with Jericho Brown. I am simply so honored to be in his presence and so moved by his work, by the things he believes, by the permissions he seems to grant us to feel what we feel and then to listen to those feelings as if they were a piece of music. We talked about why people run from difficult poems, what it means to be a writer, how to avoid making “sense” when making poems, and the pain and forgiving beauty of ambiguity. On the zoom video, below, we also talk about what tense he spends most of his time in (past, present, or future?), the pandemic, and how to fall in love with the human condition. Spending time with Jericho is a gift. I hope you love the interview, and don’t forget to grab his latest book of poems, The Tradition. Thanks again, Jericho.
Jericho Brown is a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet and the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is the winner of a Whiting Award. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues, 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection is The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019)—winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award. His poems have appeared in Bennington Review, BuzzFeed, Fence, jubilat, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.