Tyehimba Jess, AB’91, wins Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Tyehimba Jess, AB’91, has won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Olio, his collection of original verse.

Jess’ poems examine the lives of African-American performers from the Civil War up to World War I, revealing the history of America’s blues, work songs and church hymns. Jess was praised by the Pulitzer committee “for a distinctive work that melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.”

A native of Detroit, Jess studied public policy while at UChicago and received his MFA from New York University. Jess is currently the poetry and fiction editor of African American Review and is an associate professor of English at the College of Staten Island.

This is Jess’ second book of poetry. His first, leadbelly, received the 2004 National Poetry Series award. Jess read from Olio this past December at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore.