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A Church of Words

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Harvard Gazette -- Call him a preacher, a soothsayer, a shaman, a poet. It’s the last that Jericho Brown goes by, but it takes all of the above to write lines like “The loneliest people have the earth to love and not one friend their own age” (from “Odd Jobs”).

Brown, the Radcliffe Institute’s 2009-10 American Fellow, read Wednesday (April 21) inside the Radcliffe Gymnasium from “The New Testament,” his newest collection of poems.

Born to a New Orleans churchgoing family, Brown read with the breathless urgency of a reverend to a hoard of sinners. Before launching into “Another Elegy,” his opening poem, Brown’s command over the audience was palpable. Lapsing into a silence so long it might otherwise be deemed uncomfortable, Brown could’ve predicted the world’s end and no one would’ve budged.

Instead he spoke: “Expect death in all our poems. Men die. Death is not a metaphor. It stands for nothing and represents itself. … It enters whether or not your house is dirty. Whether or not your body is clean.” (Full Story)

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