Cave Canem Legacy Conversation: Tyehimba Jess & Patricia Smith

Explore the love-hate relationship between spoken-word and written poetry, which remains fraught in the literary world and often incites questions of race, class and respectability. This reading by and dialogue between page and stage poets features Pulitzer Prize-winner Tyehimba Jess and Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award-winner Patricia Smith, aiming to both deconstruct and illuminate the multitudes within poetry and form. Cave Canem fellow Nate Marshall moderates. This event is co-sponsored with the Poetry Foundation.

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry. Olio (Wave Books, 2016) won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Leadbelly (Wave Books, 2005) was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series and named one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005” by both The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review. A Cave Canem and NYU Alum, Jess, has received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2018, a 2006 Whiting Fellowship, 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and is a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team. He's been named winner of the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2016 Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. Jess has also presented his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference. His fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals and anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American PoetryRole Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art and Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry, among many others. Jess is a Professor of English at College of Staten Island.

Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (Triquarterly, 2017), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; Gotta Go, Gotta Flow (Cityfiles Press, 2015), a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; and Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), a National Book Award finalist.  Additional books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House Press, 2006), Close to Death (Steerforth, 1998), Big Towns Big Talk (Steerforth, 2002),  and Life According to Motown (Tia Chucha, 1991), among others. Patricia is a Guggenheim fellow, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, Best American PoetryBest American Essays, Best American Mystery Stories and elsewhere. Patricia is a professor at the College of Staten Island and Sierra Nevada College, as well as an instructor at the annual VONA residency.

Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. He is the author of Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) and an editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Wild Hundreds has been honored with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s award for Poetry Book of the Year and The Great Lakes College Association’s New Writer Award. His last rap album, Grown came out in 2015 with his group Daily Lyrical Product. Nate is a member of The Dark Noise Collective and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Poetry Foundation, and The University of Michigan. He is the Director of National Programs for Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival and has taught at The University of Michigan, Wabash College, and Northwestern University. Nate’s next book FINNA is due out 2020 via One World Books an imprint of Penguin Random House.