I first became a fan of Jericho Brown when I heard him read at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in the Green Mountains of Vermont. I often cringe when someone describes a writer as “brave” but that’s the word that comes to mind when I read Jericho’s work. Or, perhaps “fearless” works just as well with less tincture of condescention. For surely, Jericho fearlessly opens us up to the creative life of a man both black and gay, and he does this with a rare, unflinching honesty and closeness. He owns this voice and yet, at the same time, he isn’t afraid to employ the voice of other narrators: Diana Ross, for example, or the lion from the Wizard of Oz, Marvin Gaye, Janis Joplin. And each one has something special to tell us about their world, about the author’s world.
Jericho’s book, Please, is filled with stunning poems, each expressing a special sort of longing, of burning. From the book’s description: “Please explores the points in our lives at which love and violence intersect. Drunk on its own rhythms and full of imaginative and often frightening imagery, Please is the album playing in the background of the history and culture that surround African American/male identity and sexuality. Just as radio favorites like Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, and Pink Floyd characterize loss, loneliness, addiction, and denial with their voices, these poems’ chorus of speakers transform moments of intimacy and humor into spontaneous music.”
Mark Doty reviewed Please here.
You can read more of Jericho’s work by following the links below, or by visiting his website.
An interview at New American Poets
And a very special treat that I highly recommend: visit From the Fishhouse and listen to Jericho recite his excellent poetry just for you.