Jericho Brown, an accomplished author of poetry and prose, is a Louisiana native currently serving as the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and poetry editor at The Believer. Born Nelson Demery III, Brown attributes the decision to change his name to his desire to “give all of himself” to his writing. Brown works towards this goal by drawing on his own life experiences to inform his work.
Brown’s writing is influenced by his experience growing up in the Baptist church in Louisiana and as a Black man in America. His work explores the complexities associated with race, culture, family, religion, violence, and love in American society. He is credited with developing the duplex, a poetry form described as “a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues.”
Before earning his Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, Brown served as a speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans. Brown continued his writing pursuits by having poems published in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Buzzfeed, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and The Best American Poetry. He published his first book, Please, in 2008, for which he won the American Book Award.
Since the release of his first book, Brown has received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for The New Testament (2014), the Whiting Award, and the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his third collection of poetry, The Tradition (2019). The Tradition was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition to awards for his writing, Brown has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts.