Here, Jericho Brown introduces his new collection, The Tradition, and tells us more about the motivation behind this new body of work. Watch Jericho read ‘Stand’, one of the book’s stirring poems, in the video below.

 

'I grew up landscaping for my father’s “yard business” and spent the winter months at the public library where I fell in love with poetry. I think the work I did in the heat prepared me for the work I’d have to do as a reader, understanding labor as a property of beauty and beauty as a property of the organic. I think of my writing as an opportunity to make a reader – oh, any one human heart at a time will do – more aware of the fact that emotions wield some power over our lives. These emotions lead to questions, and steady questioning leads to changes in one’s thought, and then in one’s life. In many ways The Tradition is a book of pastoral poems that make a garden of the ways we’ve sadly become invested in normalizing evil. These latest poems were written with an abandon I had never experienced. The writing asked something different of me because the stakes were higher than ever. These latest poems are proof to me that I am a poet no matter what!'

 

 

Stand

Peace on this planet 

Or guns glowing hot, 

We lay there together 

As if we were getting 

Something done. It 

Felt like planting 

A garden or planning 

A meal for a people 

Who still need feeding, 

All that touching or 

Barely touching, not 

Saying much, not adding 

Anything. The cushion 

Of it, the skin and 

Occasional sigh, all 

Seemed like work worth 

Mastering. I’m sure 

Somebody died while 

We made love. Some-

Body killed somebody 

Black. I thought then 

Of holding you 

As a political act. I 

May as well have 

Held myself. We didn’t 

Stand for one thought, 

Didn’t do a damn thing, 

And though you left 

Me, I’m glad we didn’t.