Tyehimba Jess - "Olio"


"[Olio is] something people who care for the music, or for African American cultural history, will read and reread, whether or not they notice its ambitious expansions of what has been possible for the contemporary poem." --Stephen Burt, American Poets

Tyehimba Jess reads from Olio, named a top poetry book of spring 2016 by Library Journal.

At the Co-op

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About the book: With ambitious manipulations of poetic forms, Tyehimba Jess presents the sweat and story behind America’s blues, worksongs and church hymns. Part fact, part fiction, Jess's 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.

About the author: Tyehimba Jess is the author of two poetry collections, the 2004 National Poetry Series award-winning Leadbelly and Olio, heralded as "encyclopedic, ingenious, and abundant" by Publisher's Weekly. The Library Journal has praised both books calling Leadbelly one of the “best poetry books of 2005" and Olio a "daring collection, which blends forthright, musically acute language with portraiture."

Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000 – 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference. Jess is Poetry and Fiction Editor of African American Review and Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island.

Jess' fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Beyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature, and Art, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago's Guild Complex, and Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op
5751 S Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637