The Tradition

Jericho Brown

Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Beauty abounds in Jericho Brown’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, despite and inside of the evil that pollutes the everyday. A National Book Award finalist, The Tradition questions why and how we’ve become accustomed to terror: in the bedroom, the classroom, the workplace, and the movie theater. From mass shootings to rape to the murder of unarmed people by police, Brown interrupts complacency by locating each emergency in the garden of the body, where living things grow and wither—or survive. In the urgency born of real danger, Brown’s work is at its most innovative. His invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is an all-out exhibition of formal skill, and his lyrics move through elegy and memory with a breathless cadence. Jericho Brown is a poet of eros: here he wields this power as never before, touching the very heart of our cultural crisis.

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ISBN: 9781556594861

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 1529020476

Format: Digital

About the Author

Jericho Brown is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and 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 a Whiting Award. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues, 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection is The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019)—winner of the 2020 …

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“A collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.” —Pulitzer Prize Committee, 2020

“By some literary magic―no, it’s precision, and honesty―Brown manages to bestow upon even the most public of subjects the most intimate and personal stakes.” —Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR

“A relentless dismantling of identity, a difficult jewel of a poem.” —Rita Dove, The New York Times Magazine

“This is a truly wonderful book. These emotions and history Jericho shares are much needed in these times. A truly talented young poet.” —Nikki Giovanni

“Winner of a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Brown’s hard-won lyricism finds fire (and idyll) in the intersection of politics and love for queer Black men.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“The poems of The Tradition, Brown’s third collection, are at turns tender and vulnerable, severe and riveting.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Pure artistry imbues nearly every line of this unsparing yet subtly delicate third collection from the masterly Brown, fusing the personal, political, erotic, and philosophical.” —Library Journal, “Best Poetry 2019” 

“Jericho Brown’s The Tradition pays off on the first page (which opens with “Ganymede,” in which he reimagines the Greek myth: “I mean, don’t you want God / to want you?”) and just keeps on giving… As I read, I became a Jericho Brown fan for life. Writing is good words in good order; poetry is the best words in the best order. Brown’s words are in the best order possible.” —Vox

“Jericho Brown’s poetry collection called The Tradition is just an absolutely stunning book. He’s such a gorgeous mature poet, just beautiful and challenging.” —Lisa Lucas, New York Magazine

“Jericho Brown often refers to himself as a love poet, and indeed, his third poetry collection, The Tradition, includes verses about ecstasy and longing. . . . But the book’s sweeping scope also encompasses themes of racism, sexual violence, H.I.V. and police brutality. Throughout, the Louisiana-born poet draws on mythology and history to dissect a world that often devalues the voices of Black gay men.”—Brian Keith Jackson, New York Times

As featured in:

The New York Times, “100 Notable Books of the Year”

NPR, “’I Reject Walls’: A 2019 Poetry Preview”

Literary Hub, “Most Anticipated Book of 2019”

Buzzfeed, “66 Books Coming in 2019 You’ll Want to Keep Your Eyes On”

The Rumpus, “What to Read When 2019 is Just Around the Corner”

BookRiot, “50 Must-Read Poetry Collections of 2019”

Buzzfeed, “Best Books of 2019”

ALA GLBTRT’s “2020 Over the Rainbow Fiction Longlist”

Salon, “Quarantine book club: Reading for mental health in a plague year”

Mother Jones, “The Books that Got Us Through 2020”

Oprah Daily, “Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Rita Dove on Why Poetry Is More ‘Urgent’ Than Ever”

NBC News, “12 Queer and Trans Poets to Read for National Poetry Month”


National Book Award Finalist for Poetry, 2019

NAACP Image Award Nominee, 2019

Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, 2020

Paterson Poetry Prize, 2020

Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 2020

PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, 2020

One Book, One Philadelphia Citywide Reading Program Selection, 2021