Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Tyehimba Jess  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction History Non-Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: Detroit, Michigan

-- Website --

Illinois Connection

Jess graduated from the University of Chicago and taught at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Biographical and Professional Information

Tyehimba Jess is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. His fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies including: 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, Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry. Jess has taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.



Winner, National Poetry Series, 2004

Best Poetry Books List, Library Journal, 2005

Best Poetry Books List, Black Issues Book Review, 2005


Winner, Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 2017

Winner, Anisfield-Wolf Award in Poetry

Poetry Award, Society of Midland Authors

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation, Black Caucus of American Library Association

Finalist for poetry, National Book Critics Circle Award, 2016

Finalist, PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, 2017

Finalist, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, 2017

Top poetry book of spring, Library Journal, 2016 Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Starred Review, Library Journal

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Selected Titles At Your Library

Leadbelly /
ISBN: 0974635332. OCLC Number: 58546476

. .

Portrays the life of Huddie Ledbetter by telling the story of this Louisiana native and son of a cotton picker in a series of persona poems. The collection of poetry is divided by titles of Leadbelly's recorded songs: "What kind of soul has man?" "What you gonna do when the world's on fire?" and "The blood done signed your name."

Olio /
ISBN: 1940696208. OCLC Number: 913572962

. .

"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"--Publisher's website.