Inside USD

Professor Receives Prestigious Harvard Fellowship

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jericho Brown has carried more than a full load in his short time on campus. In late 2008, the USD assistant professor released his first book of poetry, Please. He organized the Cropper Writers Series that welcomed nationally known poets to campus. He’s performed in a number of poetry events throughout San Diego. And he’s done all this while teaching courses in poetry and creative writing at USD, as well as a graduate poetry workshop at San Diego State University.jericho2

As if that weren’t enough to keep his plate overflowing, Brown was recently named a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. As a fellow, Brown will join an esteemed group of more than 1,400 scholars, scientists, artists, writers and musicians. Historically, the Radcliffe Institute was intended as a place for female scholars and artists to do post-graduate work, but today, Radcliffe Institute Fellowships are designed to support men and women scholars, scientists, artists and writers of exceptional promise and demonstrated accomplishments. Fellows are given financial support as well as a time free of teaching and access to all Radcliffe and Harvard resources.

The fellowship comes shortly after the success of Please. Brown focuses his work on poetry and creative writing, often circling the topics of sexuality and African American male identity, which is explored in his most recent publication. The book has gone through a second printing, and is a finalist for the Thom Gunn Poetry Award and the Lambda Literary Award.

“I am grateful for the success of my first book,” he says. “Still, I never dreamed that this early in my career the Radcliffe Institute would invite me to contribute to its distinguished community of scholars and artists. I am honored to set foot on the same ground as past Bunting Fellows including Junot Diaz, Jorie Graham, Gish Jen, Diane Middlebrook, Anna Deavere Smith, Zadie Smith, Natasha Trethewey and Alice Walker. Their work continues to influence my own in its attempt to transcend boundaries and challenge conventional wisdom. I hope my work honors their legacy.”

The mission of the Radcliffe Institute is to create an advanced and nurturing academic community while sustaining a continued commitment to the study of women, gender and society. The Chronicle of Higher Education describes the institute as a place where “lives get turned around, books get written and discoveries are made, all the result of time spent among intellectual peers.”

Brown worked as speechwriter for the mayor of New Orleans before receiving his Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a B.A. from Dillard University. His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, jubilat, New England Review and Prairie Schooner, as well as many other journals and anthologies. He is the recipient of a Cave Canem Fellowship, two scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and two travel fellowships to the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland. — Denise T. Ward

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