The Tradition

Dec 8, 2019

The Tradition by Jericho Brown
Credit Copper Canyon Press

Explore American Poetry.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with poet Jericho Brown about his national book award finalist poetry collection The Tradition, published by Copper Canyon Press.

This collection focuses on multiple mythic traditions and confronts injury, loss, and love.


I am sick of your sadness,

Jericho Brown, your blackness,

Your books. Sick of you

Laying me down

... I’m sick

Of your hurting. I see that

You’re blue. You may be ugly,

But that ain’t new.

Everyone you know is

Just as cracked. Everyone you love is

As dark, or at least as black. 

Poet Jericho Brown
Credit Brian Cornelius

Jericho Brown grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and worked as a speechwriter for the mayor of New Orleans before earning his PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. 

Brown is the author of  Please (New Issues, 2008), which received the 2009 American Book Award; The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), which received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; and The Tradition, which is a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry. 

Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award and has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University.

Brown is currently an associate professor of English and creative writing and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and poetry editor at The Believer.

Musician Earl Watson, Jr in the Arts & Letters Studio at UA Little Rock Public Radio
Composer and musician Tim Anthony
Musician and artist, Cuuk.

Thanks to musicians Earl Watson Jr., who created original music on the sax and Tim Anthony, who created the soundscape and the majority of the score.

A special thanks to Cuuk, for the original song inspired by Brown's poem "Bullet Points." 

Thank you to Stickyz Rock “N" Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

Thank you to the Sheraton Four Points by Marriott Little Rock Midtown for providing accommodations for our singers, songwriters, and guests. 

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Executive Producer & Host: J. Bradley Minnick

Producer & Story Editor: Mary Ellen Kubit


Sound Mastering: Simon Sound Services

Intern: Brian Williams