Past Event

A Reading with Award-winning Poet Tyehimba Jess

Detroit native and University of Chicago alumni Tyehimba Jess’ first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. He returns to Chicago to present new work from his manuscript-in-progress entitled,Olio, borrowing its name from the middle section of a minstrel show. Jess presents the stories and perspectives of several turn-of-the century African American performers, often in counterpoint with their contemporaries, family or nemeses. The poems also explore form in new ways, allowing the reader to decide their own course while maintaining the integrity of a narrative. This reading will be billed as one of Logan Center’s Make Music Chicago events.

Born in Detroit, Mr. Jess’ poetry bridges slam and academic poetry. His first collection, leadbelly (2005), an exploration of the blues musician Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter’s life, was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, and was voted one of the top three poetry books of the year by Black Issues Book Review. A two-time member of the Chicago Green Mill Slam team, Mr. Jess was also Chicago’s Poetry Ambassador to Accra, Ghana. He is the author of African American Pride: Celebrating Our Achievements, Contributions, and Enduring Legacy (2003), and his work has been featured in numerous anthologies, including Soulfires: Young Black Men in Love and Violence (1996), Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry (2000), and Dark Matter 2: Reading the Bones (2004).

His honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award. A former artist-in-residence with Cave Canem, Mr. Jess has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, as well as a Lannan Writing Residency. Mr. Jess has taught at the Juilliard School; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and the College of Staten Island in New York City. He received his BA from the University of Chicago and his MFA from New York University.

Presented by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago

Co-sponsored by The Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago and The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.

Free and open to the public. For more information please call 312.422.5580.

If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580. For parking locations near the facility, please visit