Tyehimba Jess is winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book “Olio.” With ambitious manipulations of poetic forms, Jess presents the sweat and story behind America’s blues, worksongs and church hymns. Part fact, part fiction, his much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. “Olio” is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.
Tyehimba Jess is the author of leadbelly and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Olio. leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the "Best Poetry Books of 2005." Jess's second book, Olio, won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and the 2017 Book Award for Poetry from the Society of Midland Authors. It was also a finalist for the 2016 National Books Critics Circle Award, 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Jess is Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island.
This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils in partnership with the Pulitzer Prizes Board for a collaboration between UPR, Utah Humanities, The Salt Lake Tribune, and The Salt Lake City Library. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. The “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.