Emory professor Jericho Brown wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown, Emory’s Winship Distinguished Research Professor in Creative Writing, has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his latest collection, “The Tradition.”

The 2020 Pulitzer Prizes were announced via video May 4. The prize for poetry is given annually to a “distinguished volume of original verse by an American author.” In selecting Brown’s book for the honor, the Pulitzer board called it “a collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.”.

“I have known about the Pulitzer Prize and understood its prestige since I was in elementary school and Rita Dove won it,” Brown says. “And I’m so glad I understood it as one of the possibilities for a writer even when I was a kid.

“Understanding it as a possibility doesn’t mean I ever expected to win it, and getting the news that I won is the very best thing to happen to me in 2020 by far,” he adds. “I didn’t expect to win it because when I write my poems I mean to be as subversive and radical as possible.”

Since being published in April 2019, “The Tradition” has received glowing reviews lauding Brown’s “compelling and forceful” brilliance for raising “imperative questions” that capture the intimate stakes in broader worries about safety, terror, freedom and love.

Brown invented a new poetic form called the “duplex” to challenge the existing rules of poetry while his words challenged the contradictory myths and culture of the nation.

The Pulitzer is the latest honor for Brown, who previously has been named the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry.

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