Poet Jericho Brown First in Author Series

Oct 17, 2014

by Laura Hackett

Florida Southern welcomes distinguished poet Jericho Brown as the year’s first writer in its author series.  Brown, the former speechwriter for the mayor of New Orleans and winner of the American Book Award, comes to campus Oct. 20—an encore to his successful visit in 2010.  

The reading will be held in Danforth Chapel at 5 p.m. and is open to the Florida Southern community.

“Everyone loved him the first time he visited,” said creative writing professor, Dr. Erica Bernheim, who organizes the author series.  “He’s one of our few repeat visitors.”

Brown, a professor at Emory University, devastates his audience with one liners one moment and prompts laughter the next.  Bernheim describes his stage presence as “mesmerizing, something that grabs you by the neck and demands you listen.“

He holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BA from Dillard University, and is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland.

His writings touch on everything from African American heritage and sexual identity to love, loneliness, and violence. National Book Award recipient, Terrance Hayes, calls Brown’s work “the poetry of blood-ship: the meaning of family, of love, of sexuality; the resonances of pain and the possibilities of redemption.”

Brown will meet informally with students at 4:30 p.m. for a Q&A session. He will also discuss his recent book, The New Testament, a collection of poems that revisits biblical tales, weaving in stories of memory and lust.

Brown kicks off the sixth year of the author series, started by Bernheim, who took over as head of the creative writing department in 2008. Bernheim worked with top poets and writers at the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she earned her masters degree in poetry before attaining a PhD in Contemporary Literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

The next featured artist will be poet Nance Van Winckel in late November.