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U. of I. poetry
professor Tyehimba Jess wins Whiting Writers' Award
Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
Ill.— A young poet and professor of poetry at the
University of Illinois has won a prestigious literary award.
Tyehimba Jess was one of 10 U.S. writers to win the 2006 Whiting
The award, given annually to “emerging writers of exceptional
talent and promise,” includes a cash prize of $40,000 to each
Jess, who joined the English department in 2005, won the 2004 National
Poetry Series Award for his first book, “leadbelly.”
His fiction and poetry have appeared in “Soulfires: Young Black
Men on Love and Violence” (Penguin, 1996); “Slam: The
Competitive Art of Performance Poetry” (Manic D Press, 2000); “Bum
Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam” (Three Rivers Press, 2001); “Beyond
the Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century” (Black
Classic Press, 2002); “Role Call: A Generational Anthology
of Social and Political Black Literature and Art” (Third World
Press, 2002); and “Dark Matter 2: Reading the Bones” (Aspect
He also is the author of a non-fiction book, “African American
Pride: Celebrating Our Achievements, Contributions, and Enduring
Legacy” (Citadel Press, 2003).
An alumnus of Cave Canem and New York University, Jess received a
Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in
2004 and was a 2004-2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts
He won the 2001 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award, an Illinois
Arts Council Artist Fellowship in Poetry for 2000-2001, and the 2001
Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award.
He was on the 2000 and 2001 Chicago Green Mill Slam teams.
The 2006 Whiting Award recipients were announced in New York Oct.