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Pulitzer Prize-winning poet makes Clemson Literary Festival appearance

Jericho Brown // Courtesy

Pulitzer Prize winning poet and professor at Emory University, Jericho Brown.

Jericho Brown, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and headliner for Clemson’s 16th annual Literary Festival, gripped the audience with his readings on Thursday, March 30.
As he read, he looked as if he was possessed by the same muse that helped him write his poetry. His demeanor changed, and he transported listeners into the moment of the poem’s conception.
Brown is an award-winning poet whose most recent book, “The Tradition,” won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2020. He is known for his complex poems that shape love and terror into something even more powerful. Currently, Brown is a professor at Emory University.
Before reading at the festival, he put the audience at ease with his gentle wit.
“I bet this is the first time you’ve ever seen someone reach up their shirt on this stage,” he quipped as he struggled to clip on his microphone.
“Where I’m from,” he told the audience, “we start with prayer. I’m going to start with a poem that is a prayer.”
At the LitFest, Brown read from multiple of his poetry collections. He paused between poems to explain their origin or to chat with the audience. While Brown’s poems are personal, they are rooted in something deeper. It is for these reasons that they touch so many people.
Brown mixed more tender poems with pieces designed to make a social statement. One of the most powerful poems he read was about police brutality.
While Brown masterfully commanded the room, his humility made him approachable and gave the event a more intimate feeling. Brown talked about his childhood and upbringing, saying, “I’m still a nerd; I just get paid for it now,” while explaining the origins of his poetry.
Make sure to pick up a copy of Brown’s collection “The Tradition,” and don’t miss Clemson’s next annual LitFest.

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Mercedes Dubberly
Mercedes Dubberly, Associate Editor
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