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OPEN ACCESS: JERICHO ON THE TRADITION

Posted on June 08 2020

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement we've been opening up our archives to share some incredible articles from our members' magazine by powerful black voices. Today we're offering an insight into our PBS Autumn 2019 Choice The Tradition by Jericho Brown in their own words:

"Here are some of the questions I find myself asking while writing poems: Do I love us enough? How is it that the same erotics that can lead to joy can also make way for violence? How narrow can the separation between tenderness and violence be? In a bed? In a family? What is a citizen in a nation that doesn’t want my citizenship? What the hell is a man, and is he not built with the ability to listen? ...

In my third book, The Tradition, I cut closer to the marrow with poems about my own experience with racial and sexual violation and about the way our nations have become invested in normalizing evil. If your tears still mean anything to you,

I want my poems to make you do the crying that leads to real thinking. And I want you to think yourself into the kind of action that old black people in the old black church called “conviction”, as in, “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one...” (John 8:9). Poems make it impossible to return to the world unbothered. I work to revise traditions."

Jericho Brown, PBS Bulletin, Autumn 2019

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