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The Tradition

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  979 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Jericho Brown’s daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the ...more
Paperback, 77 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Copper Canyon Press
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Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I begin with love, hoping to end there,’ writes Jericho Brown in his third, and extraordinary new collection The Tradition, ‘I don’t want to leave a messy corpse.’ The task of a poet is often to take in the world and transform the truths into art, a harrowing task when there seems to be a shadow of violence devouring the horizon. Jericho Brown, who is arguably one of the most important voices in poetry today, takes an imploring look into violence, from the personal to the cultural and ...more
Whitney Atkinson
It's getting more dificult for me to read poetry because I find a lot of it lingers in very "middle of the road" territory, which is how I felt this one was. Jericho's writing is certainly pretty and I highlighted a lot of impactful lines, but I also found myself skimming some poems that I couldn't quite comprehend, and there wasn't a poem in this collection that I loved start to finish, even though great messages and introspection are sprinkled throughout. I don't think this book is quite my ...more
Read By RodKelly
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Tradition is a stunning and poignant collection of poems that examine the ache, the grief, the sexuality, the music, and the language of the black body. Be it man, woman, lover, or tormentor, these roles are exposed and explored with a sharp and slightly sardonic eye. These poems challenge our collective amnesia and complacency with the horrors unleashed upon our communities and our very own bodies; the ways in which we fight for autonomy and freedom, the ways in which we lie to ourselves to ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
National Book Award for Poetry Longlist 2019. Brown’s poetry has twists that make us think. They start off in one direction and within a few short phrases move to more weighty issues—how the body is vulnerable to infection (HIV), physical abuse, racism, and more. Recommend these lyrical compact poems.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2019, poetry
I first encountered Jericho Brown on a recent episode of On Being, where he discussed his work, his life as a gay, black, HIV-positive man, and how he dealt with honesty in his own work (specifically around the subject of rape... he talks about how he wrote around it until he just couldn't write until he dealt with it more directly.)

It's hard to claim "favorites" in this collection because what Jericho Brown does is speak truths, but they are painful and eviscerating at times. What more could we
chantel nouseforaname
OMG. I don't even know where to begin with this.

Jericho Brown touched me on levels with The Tradition. I swear I was reading this on the bus and subway and just felt my eyes filling with water. This is some of the heaviest poetry I've read since I read Felon last month by Reginald Dwayne Betts.

I can't even get into how good this effort is, I'm shaking. Bullet Points is a HUGE highlight of the poetry offered up here. Every time the words, "I promise you" came up - I felt this movement in my
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A varied collection about race and sexuality. Wonderful language and structure.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Many of the poems in the first half of this book focus on the political. Most in the second dwell on the personal. You might like one or the other or both.

For a sample poem, along with one from a book I read at the same time, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, you can go down this rabbit hole..
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poems that examine the personal and the political and how they impact upon each other (particularly the political upon the individual). Often filled with strongly negative judgments on the self, the poems combine poems of fatherhood, trauma, being gay and all its personal complications (as well as the complications of being human and looking for safety and love).

Brown uses an interesting combination of forms, including sonnets and the ghazal, a form I especially admire and enjoy).

These poems
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will turn you inside out.
Kamila Kunda
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, own, poetry
“The Tradition” is the third collection of poems by Jericho Brown, an American, Louisiana-born, prize-winning poet. For me it was the first experience with his deeply personal, intimate verses. They are rooted in American culture and history, in which black bodies are abused and hated even by their owners. Brown writes about the struggle to accept himself, as a black person, as a man, as a gay and about the dissonance between how he sees himself, how he thinks he should feel about himself and ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Brown's searing, rhythmic poems focus on what it means to be 'human' in our current cultural crisis. This collection of poems explore Blackness, queerness, spirituality and trauma with integrity, and a profound insight.
His is truly the voice of now.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Duplex: Cento

My last love drove a burgundy car,
Color of a rash, a symptom of sickness

We were the symptoms, the road are sickness:
None of our fights ended where they began.

None of the beaten end where they begin.
Any man in love can cause a messy corpse,

But I don't want to leave a messy corpse
Obliterated in some lilied field,

Stench obliterating lilies of the field,
The murderer, young and unreasonable.

He was so young, so unreasonable,
Steadfast and awful, tall as my father.

Steadfast and awful, my
Brenna Gomez
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jericho Brown’s The Tradition is a poetry collection that will not turn away from the difficult thought, feeling, or deed. The book knocked me all the way down from the very first page. It begins with the stunning, “Ganymede”—a poem that rewrites a painful history: “When we look at myth / This way, nobody bothers saying / Rape. I mean, don’t you want God / To want you?” If we pretend we chose the terrible things that happen to us, then they can’t possibly be that bad. But it doesn’t mean we don’ ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, poetry
The Tradition is a rhythmic & hypnotic collection of poems that often focus on surviving a myriad of hardships, largely including deep-rooted racism, police brutality, and being a gay man. Sometimes it takes me a bit to grasp the flow and style of a poet; Brown's various formats not only rolled with ease and grace into my brain, but left me breathless in how he composed both the prose and the meaning in a way that reads so smoothly, like it was meant to be. Both new and seasoned poetry ...more
Jee Koh
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Poems immersed in poetic and cultural tradition but find their own way to their end. It's quite incredible that Brown found a viable and individual way to talk about the unspeakable and the communal: family hurt, violence against black bodies, and the mystery of love and lust. The language is deliberately plain, but the control is very tight. I'm not enamored of the duplex, a new poetic form invented by Brown, and poems written in that form thread through the collection. It's a hybrid of the ...more
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, hiv-aids, poetry
This is a hard hitting book filled with excellent poems that make the reader feel. He addresses pain held in the body, through racism, slavery, AIDS, violence. The title poem of the book is published online:

A note on the back of the book, and in interviews he has done for his third book, he explains the form he created and named, the Duplex. Here is an essay he wrote about creating the form at the Poetry Foundation:

I love
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, poetry
The Tradition is a poetry collection by a beautiful man, Jericho Brown, with a beautiful cover. Normally I wouldn't focus any attention on an author's looks, but all his social media profiles encourage readers to "google me" and if you do you will see he has a bright, beautiful smile that is not to be denied.

But to the work at hand...

I find it so intimidating to read and review poetry.
It's kind of abstract in a way.
Is it literal, is it about his own personal experience, is he channeling
Luke Gorham
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2019
Brown is the rare poet who builds his words on a balance of individual specificity and broad humanity. He writes about race, gender, sexuality, and class, but so varyingly and with such a measured approach as to never succumb to nicheness. His words cut, but there is an almost anti-ferocity to his voice, lulling the reader and resulting (for me) in frequent double-takes and rereadings. Some poetry works impressionistically, the pages casting a synergistic mood that informs and deepens as a ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gifts-from-alice
An astounding collection that entwines contemporary love, fear, and violence with those same themes as they appeared in the myths of Ancient Greek song and the American antebellum and post-Reconstruction. Included among the collection are a number of masterpieces that easily stand alone in its own right. In particular, I will be carrying "Bullet Points," "Foreday in the Morning," "Trojan," "The Long Way," and "The Tradition" with me for a very long time. Must read.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this collection of poems. The poet brings poems of love, injustice, life, ethnicity, power and reality together in this collection. The poems are current and yet it seems clear to me, lasting. They are poems for a hundred years from now, as well as for today. Wonderful.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, poetry
I usually read poetry without knowing much about the poets and it's fine, but I think with this one I'd like to learn more about Jericho Brown and then come back to this one. I really enjoyed it this first time around, but I think I'd enjoy it even more after learning more about him.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author, poetry, 2019
I found this a bit easier to sink into than some of the poetry I've read recently. The form and prose were just a bit more, not simple, but direct? It was easier to sink into the right space for this collection.
Gabrielle Jarrett
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jericho Brown is gut-wrenching and incisive, cutting into the spaces in the armor of our protected hearts. He leaves us startlingly out of breath. He doesn't shift our personal world view kaleidoscope. Jericho Brown shatters it. He reminds me of my uncle, who upon returning from WW II as a Marine tail-gunner, stated that we Americans live in upholstered nutshells. Jericho Brown cracks that shell, rips up the upholstery and feeds it to the birds. A great great poet.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing collection of skin to skin, heart to death, confronting, visually heavy poetry. Lot's of favorites.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
More impressionistic than my poetry comfort zone but there are sentences that stop you in your tracks and moments throughout of real tonal beauty. The perspective voiced in some of these poems black, queer, HIV+ feels under-heard.
Stephanie Amargi
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A provocative new poetry collection that covers topics such as race, sexuality, illness, love, and what it looks like to live in our terror-filled world. This was my introduction to Brown's poetry, and wow. These poems weren't "feel good." Each one seemed to end on a note so different from how it began, stirring me, sometimes disturbing me, but ultimately leading to reflection and wonder. A few I found myself skimming, whether due to my mood or the poem itself, I don't know. But Brown has left a ...more
Twila Newey
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This collection is stunning. I keep turning back to reread the opening poem. Tried to read it out loud to my husband and kids but couldn’t stop crying. If anything can save this broken world, poetry just might be the thing.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I recently heard an interview between poet Jericho Brown and host Krista Tippet on an On Being podcast. Intrigued, I had to read his work.

The poems in this book are beautiful, yet powerful, layered and at times heavy. My favorite poems from this collection are "Riddle," "Entertainment Industry," and "Dark."

I cannot wait to read more of his writing.
Hannah V Warren
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I am a they in most of America."
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Play Book Tag: The Tradition by Jericho Brown / 5 stars 3 14 May 29, 2019 04:46PM  

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Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BA from Dillard University. The recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, the Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, and two travel fellowships to ...more
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“Nobody in this nation feels safe, and I'm still a reason why.” 0 likes
“So the Bible says, in the beginning, Blackness. I am alive. You? Alive. You born with the nerve To arrive yawning.” 0 likes
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