On June 19, our Creative Writing Conservatory welcomed Tyehimba Jess for a presentation and reading of poetry from his 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Olio.
The evening opened with current Creative Writers reciting original pieces, leading into an introduction of Tyehimba’s previous work and awards. Throughout the evening, Tyehimba presented his research on minstrel shows of the 19th century and the historical significance of the individual’s featured in his poetry. Audience members were completely fascinated with Tyehimba’s synergy of words and design within the book. Tyehimba’s poetry in Olio can be read in many different directions and at every reading, he improvises the order in which he reads. In response to a student question on the topic of African American minstrel performers, Tyehimba talked about the poetic value of their circumstances and the relevance to racism in our society today. ChiArts is grateful to Tyehimba for sharing his incredible work, creative process, and historical insight!