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Jericho Brown
San Diego, CA
Jericho Brown is a poet.
Interests: Poetry
Recent Activity
Thank you for reading, Susan.
Thanks so much, Brian. I mean for this week's posts to say everything about me as a writer.
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Thank you, Derrick Franklin (the other fine man pictured above), for being the love of my life, for putting up with me and without me in the midst of my end of the semester grading and recommendation writing and refusal to sleep or eat because I think I've figured the right word in the last line of some old poem, for being my long distance love who makes both coasts my coast, for letting me flirt with the anonymous and the ridiculous knowing that, in truth, I'm coming home to put my whole check and whatever else you require in the palm of your perfect hand. Thanks for letting me chase whatever it is I think I'll catch when I'm foolish enough to agree to blog for a week at the busiest time of year. Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Well, those of us sick of the love-fest are going to have to find another blog to read today. (Some of us already changed the channel as soon as we saw the word, “black.” Scary asses.) Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Another surprise. Let me tell you a story you don’t want to hear. After I my first book was published, I felt a sort of emptiness that I don’t know if I can explain. It was as if the one thing I had for years been doing was done and taken away from me… No, it was as if the one thing I had for years been doing was done, and I had given it—my world beyond this world—away. Worse, there was no time for my sorrow and no way to explain it to anyone. Surely, I wanted the book in print. Surely, I understood that others were not so lucky to have their books taken yet. Besides, I had to do the work my best poet friends said I should be doing: promote, promote, promote. Say yes to everything until the book has legs enough to walk on its own. Then say yes to everything else. And yes, they were right… But I was tired, and I missed having lines and words and rhymes I could obsess over. Soon after my book was released, I was fortunate enough that several writers gave it very kind reviews. And I was foolish enough to read them. One of those reviews was written by Wayne Johns, a poet in his own right. I searched around for his email and wrote him a note of thanks for his care and attention and honest advice geared toward the future of my work. His response was one I can only describe as clairvoyant. He seemed to know that I was no longer writing since the book had been published. He seemed to know that I was lost without working on the countless revisions that had become who I was. He asked for my address, said he had a gift for me that would be perfect at that moment. A few days later, I found in my mailbox a book I had never heard of by a poet who friends had neglected to mention. Among the Monarchs by Christine Garren. Wayne Johns knows all. I fell, again, in love with poetry. Christine Garren’s poems are rooted in exchanges with landscape. Her turning and shifting and dirtied awe read as if James Wright and Franz Wright have found common ground. Her eye for the oddities represented oddly makes it clear what Jean Valentine has to do with Paul Celan, what we all have to do with Emily Dickinson. Christine’s most recent book is The Piercing. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry. Her chapbook, The Difficult Here, is now available at 42 Miles Press. Though I think each of her short volumes is best read in one sitting for the cumulative effect she creates, here is one of her poems I found online: The Piercing Small piercing as if in an earlobe your leaving caused. Air is filling it now, time... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Here we are at gratitude day four, and since earlier blogs and resulting conversations this week have taught me so much about the process of selecting, anthologizing, and publishing, I thought you might be interested in hearing from someone who works as an editor. Michael Dumanis is Associate Professor of English at Cleveland State University, where he also serves as Director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, a literary press, and teaches poetry in the consortial Northeast Ohio MFA Program (NEOMFA). He is the author of the poetry collection My Soviet Union (University of Massachusetts Press, 2007) and coeditor of the anthology Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (Sarabande, 2006). His writing has previously been recognized with residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts, the Civitella Ranieri Center, and Yaddo; fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the James Michener Foundation, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Wesleyan Writers' Conference, and the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture; and a grant from the Ohio Arts Council. I met Michael when we were in school together in Houston. He's proven to be a very helpful reader of my poems and a great friend. With thanks to him for our ten years of arguing and laughing, here are some things he had to say about his own writing and about the Cleveland State Poetry Center: Jericho: Michael, I want to ask you about being a Russian-American poet and how that particular background informs your writing. Can you talk about how your Russian poet influences are the same as or different from your American poet influences? Michael: I was born in Moscow, immigrated to the United States with my parents in 1981, at the age of five, and grew up bilingual. I was exposed to poetry in Russian long before I read it in English—it was presented to me by my parents as a vital art form that contained wisdom about human experience, that simultaneously enlightened and entertained. They would quote poems in conversation, recite them on road trips. I didn’t know this wasn’t happening in all the households on my street in suburban Buffalo, New York. I think I have been heavily influenced not just by Russian poetry but by Russian prosody, by the emphasis Russians place on metrical rhythm, the music of language, and wordplay, by my parents’ belief that the most important attributes of a poem were structure and sound. When I would read them poems I wrote, they would have a subjective reaction without necessarily knowing what the words in the poem were saying and would tell me whether or not they liked how the poem sounded and how individual phrases turned. My Russian poet influences and my American poet influences have a lot in common. I tend to like poetry that is musically and structurally interesting, that is simultaneously playful and intense, performative and somewhat maximalist. In Russian, I like Vladimir Mayakovsky—especially “A Cloud in Trousers”—and Andrei Voznesensky. I like Marina Tsvetayeva. I love the weird experimental poems... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
David! David! David! Thanks so much for chance to let us get as lively and thoughtful here as possible. I would love to hear that "talk for hours" you could have about securing permissions for the Oxford Book. Hearing more about your trials and tribulations in the area could make for fewer of such trials for anthologists in the future. Thanks again. jb
Thanks so much for your response here, Kevin! I do hope most of all that this leads to a larger and longer conversation in the poetry community about these fees. I'm sure you know a great deal about this since having published your recent anthology. All love to you, jb
Thanks so much for reading and reading so closely, Brian. I'm glad that Rita touch on form a bit when she discussed writing _Mother Love_, but I think you're absolutely right; I should have asked someone so good a making villanelles sing off the page more questions about form. Next time...
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Jericho, the term “experimental” for poetry may have begun with experimental drugs, or with the infiltration of the sciences into popular culture. But like most words it probably has a hidden meaning to do with marketability and job security. That is, an experimental poet would be someone who is taking a chance on being obscure and unemployable. In any case, it is probably the case that all poets write in hopes of discovering something they didn’t know before, something that only the words, let loose, can reveal. In the fifties, sixties, and seventies, every day was an experiment in survival for poets. Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Power is knowing who you are -- your strengths as well as the flaws -- and being content with what you see while still striving to improve. Powerlessness means you’ve handed that judgment over to someone else and buckled under other people's ulterior expectations. Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Ruth Stone surprised me with her confession that she didn’t read much poetry so she “wouldn’t write like anyone else” and felt more like a transcriber of her muse than a poet. Lucille Clifton surprised me when I asked her if she was working on any new poems and she responded, “What kind of question is that?” Maxine Kumin surprised me when she professed that she didn’t think she had been that radical or political in her early poetry. Galway Kinnell surprised me with his contentment with the remoteness of his home and abiding love for silence. Donald Hall surprised me with the impeccable accuracy of his vast memory and his still inconsolable grief over the loss of his wife, Jane Kenyon, sixteen years ago. Robert Bly surprised me with his abiding need for a church community, despite his longstanding eclectic interest in Sufi mysticism and Jungian psychology. And Jack Gilbert surprised me with how far down the list he placed poetry on his list of life priorities. Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Dec 10, 2011