One of the most significant emerging African-American
and performer, Tyehimba Jess’s career began in the early 90's after his graduation from University of Chicago
. His first self-published book
, when niggas love Revolution like they love the bulls, was released in 1993. The book garnered praise from Carl Sandburg
Award-winning poet Sterling Plump: "Thematically and linguistically, Jess' poetry addresses his community politically and artistically. He possesses an educated ear that fuses
sounds into powerful tapestry on the page."
His writing abilities extend into poetry as well as short stories and plays. Some of his works were incorporated into two successful plays
-- "Blakk Love" in Chicago
, IL and "Human, Black and Contemporary" in Atlanta
In 1994, Jess won Chicago's Sister
Cities Poem for Accra Contest, and served as poetic emissary
in 1995. There, he performed for the mayor
and at the Ghana Union
of Theatrical Societies.
His work was published
in 1995's critically acclaimed anthology
Soul Fires: Young Black Men on Love and Violence, edited by Rohan B. Preston and Daniel Wideman. The caliber of Jess' poetry earned him a residency at the annual Cave Canem
workshop founded by Cornelius Eady, Toi Dericotte, Afaa Michael Weaver and Elizabeth Alexander. Jess' writing also appeared in Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago's Guild Complex (Tia Chucha, November 1999), www.fyah.com, Shooting Star Review, Blu Magazine and The Source.
Jess shared the stage with The Funky Wordsmyths
, Sista Souljah
, Mutabaruka, Haki Madhubuti
, Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Ted Sirota and David Boykin. He has taken his art to venues such as The Hothouse, Guild Complex, Lit-X, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago Historical Society and the Nuyorican Poets Café
. Jess is now branching into the poetry slam
community where he has won slams and earned high scores at venues such as Chicago's Green Mill
, Pittsburgh's Pollinator Bar and Washington DC's Takoma Station, where Jess became a BlackWords Poetry Slam finalist. He will represent Chicago's Green Mill team in the 2000 and 2001 at the National Poetry Slam
As a teacher
, Jess has worked with various Chicago public and Catholic
schools, and with arts organizations such as Art Resources in Teaching, Boulevard Arts Center, Duncan YMCA
's Writer's Voice, Gallery 37 and Young Chicago Authors. He is also the Duncan YMCA Writer's Voice Fellow for the year 2000 and a member of the Illinois Arts Council Artist Roster for 2000-2002.