The Black Matter Is Life: Poetry for Engagement and Overcoming - Love, Love, Love - featuring guest poet Jericho Brown

Join us this winter for a virtual series of public conversations entitled, The Black Matter is Life: Poetry for Engagement and Overcoming. In this series, we will explore and discuss the rich tradition and innovation found in African American poetry.

Poetry is a powerful art form, one that offers profound insights into what it means to be human. Through the creative, succinct, and melodious use of language, poets render into words their joys, their challenges, their vulnerabilities, and their discoveries, thus providing shape and meaning to the human connection and shared emotional experience.

In the wake of our nation’s current unrest, this program is designed to build bridges across the racial divide by introducing the audience to the writings of a number of African American poets whose work has shone a light on a rich cultural heritage that has often gone unexplored. This program asks the audience to consider how African American poetry provides tools for healing our nation’s deep racial wounds.

Program Description:
To begin this exploration of the vast diversity within African American poetic tradition, UNH professors Reginald Wilburn and Dennis Britton will facilitate three online conversations. Each discussion deconstructs four poems grouped by themes. Conversations will center these poems within the context of the African American literary tradition, their cultural heritage, the traditions they encompassed, and the relevance this tradition has to us today. The series will also explore the question, “Why does African American Poetry matter?”

Jericho Brown is author of the The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is the winner of the Whiting Award. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection, The Tradition won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have appeared in The Bennington Review, Buzzfeed, Fence, jubilat, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME magazine, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is the director of the Creative Writing Program and a professor at Emory University.

Dr. Dennis Britton is an Associate Professor of English and the University of New Hampshire, Durham where he teaches courses on Shakespeare and medieval and Renaissance British Literature.  He is the author of Becoming Christian:  Race, Reformation, and Early Modern English Romance (2014) and coedited with Melissa Walter Rethinking Shakespeare Source Study:  Audiences, Authors, and Digital Technologies (2018).  Dr. Britton is a member of the Boards of Directors of New Hampshire Humanities and Black Heritage Trail, NH.

Dr. Reginald A. Wilburn is an associate professor of English specializing in African American literature and culture, Milton, and intertextuality studies at the University of New Hampshire, Durham.  His monograph, Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt:  Appropriating Milton in Early African American Literature is the first work of literary criticism to theorize African Americans’ subversive reception of John Milton, England’s epic poet of liberty.  A former U.S. Marine, Dr. Wilburn is an alumnus of the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (Phillips Academy) where he serves as faculty and curriculum coordinator.  Dr. Wilburn has received two UNH teaching award and mentors students in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.