Past Issue: Tyehimba Jess


Spring 2019 |Tyehimba Jess | Vol. 2, Iss. 4

Welcome to The Fight & The Fiddle, a publication of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. Each issue gives you a 360-degree view of a Black poet, including an interview, new poems, a critical essay, and a writing prompt inspired by our featured poet. 


Tyehimba Jess is the author of two award-winning collections of poetry: Leadbelly (Wave Books, 2005), which was a National Poetry Series award winner, and Olio (Wave Books, 2017), which won the 2017 Anisfield Book Award, as well as a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Jess’s work is renowned for its technical pyrotechnics — poems that read in multiple directions, take on multiple voices, and occasionally leap off the page. His participation in the slam/spoken word scene in Chicago informs his work on the page as well as his performances, which are dynamic and engaging. Jess’s innovative and important work has been honored with fellowships from Cave Canem and Ragdale, a Whiting Award, and a Lannan Foundation residency.

  • The Interview: Tyehimba Jess talks with editor Lauren K. Alleyne about writing in persona, giving the reader agency, and the role of materiality in his latest book, Olio.
  • Critical Essay: In his essay, “Ain’t Gonna Change One Fact,” Dr. Anthony Reed posits Jess’s use of history as a way to “think about and through the various devices by which we evade awareness of what constrains and distorts human agency.”
  • Poems: Read “Tatum Summer,” “Nap Rates Available,” and “It’s Tie-EEM-bah,” by Tyehimba Jess.
  • Writing Prompt: Multidirectional Histories: writing the contrapuntal poem.



Photo by Adriana Hammond