On Nov. 14, 2008, all the attention and focus of a mass gathering of students, faculty, and poetry enthusiasts was directed at one man. This man enthralled and entranced his audience with each of his words and facial expressions. It was as if the audience was emotionally intoxicated by the intensity and vibrancy of the man’s speech. No, this man was not a famous rhetorician or accomplished actor—he was USD’s very own Jericho Brown, assistant professor of English and established poet.
As a part of the Lindsay J. Cropper Living Writers Series, Jericho Brown read various passages from his first poetry book, Please, at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice’s theater. The series was started in memory of 1998 USD alumna Lindsay Cropper, who died in 2000. Her parents, Dorothy and Barrie Cropper, continue to support the Writers Series by bringing authors to read their own work and conduct workshops with USD student-writers.
Brown is a notable scholar and talented poet; he earned his Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston, M.F.A. from the University of New Orleans, B.A. from Dillard University, and 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.
Please was recently published by Western Michigan University’s New Issues Poetry & Prose in October and has received much praise and respect from critics and readers alike.
According to renowned poet and scholar Claudia Rankine, “To read these poems is to encounter the devastating genius of Jericho Brown.”
“His poetry is artistic and meaningful to the extent that anyone can get something out of it,” said Mckenzie Haught, a USD senior.
Please is a collection of poems that explores the underlying history, culture, and life experiences that permeate African American/male identity and sexuality.
“Brown’s poetry gives a voice to troubled individuals, not to make a change in the worldâ€¦Just to have their stories known,” said Jocelyn Contreras, a USD junior.
Brown exudes an air of painful love and passionate violence. He spoke his poems slowly, with painstaking clarity and stark emotion while, every once in awhile he looked at the audience with his charmingly honest eyes.
Overall, the poetry reading was well-received as evident in the overflowing auditorium of attendees and the sell-out of Brown’s books. Despite the success of his book and his poetry reading, Brown remains graciously humble through it all.
“I’m just really thankful to be here and for all your support and to be able to share this stage with so many writers that I respect,” said Brown at the end of the night.