Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Tyehimba Jess  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History Non-Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: Detroit, Michigan

-- Website --
-- Tyehimba Jess on WorldCat --

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 Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, and has received fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. A veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, he exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TEDxNashville Conference, and received a 2016 Lannan Literary Award. 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'', ''Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry''.Jess has taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island in New York.



-- 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 '''Other Awards

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes) For booking information for Tyehimba Jess, or to reach Tyehimba directly, please send a note to Vaughan Ashlie Fielder at [ The Field Office]. For media inquiries, contact [ Ryo Yamaguchi Wave Books].

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.