Q&A with Poet Jericho Brown

DMACC’s annual Celebration of the Literary Arts will take place this year April 8 through the 10. This is the Celebration of the Literary Arts 17th year in action and will feature a mixture of national and local writers from various backgrounds.

This event gives students the opportunity to engage and connect with experienced writers and poets. Students can listen to writers as they share some of their works and ask questions to gain firsthand knowledge about being an author.

The Literary Festival started over 17 years ago with only a handful of local writers from Des Moines in attendance.

“But now it has grown where we have people from all over the country and we get bigger names every year.” said Marc Dickinson, Literary Festival Coordinator.

There will be readings held across six of DMACC’s campuses in addition to a special reading at Beaverdale Books on Monday, April 8. Celebration of the Literary Arts is also doing something new this year by partnering with Drake University to do a co-sponsored reading at the Ankeny campus on Wednesday, April 10.

“Drake is bringing in three writers who write flash fiction, who are all going to read from their work,” Dickinson said. “Drake is bringing them in from around the country and we are joining them to have a co-sponsored event. One of the writers is the executive director of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). He’ll be coming in and reading from his work and taking questions about how that project works.”

Students can find a full schedule for the Literary Arts Festival on the DMACC English Department website. The authors works will also be available to purchase if students are interested in buying their own copy or getting an autograph.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m black.

How long have you been writing?

When I was old enough to hear how delicious rhymes are, I started making rhymes and saying them out loud just to hear them.

When did you realize you wanted to turn writing into a career?

I’m still not sure about this.  I think I’m able to make it a career because I don’t think about what I do in terms of “career.”  I just try to do the right thing and to use all my natural gifts and talents as best I can.  I write poems because the act of writing poems feels really good to me.

Do you have a specific place you like to go when you write?

I’d rather be at home so no one can see me talking to myself.  I’m sure I don’t look like I’m well while I’m writing.

What style of poetry do you like using the most?

I just try to be clear.  I’m into clarity and precision.  They really turn me on.

What advice would you give students who are aspiring writers?

Never say no.  Always go all the way.  Think about your idols, and work as hard as they must have.

What or who do you like to read in your spare time?

Ernest Holmes and Michael Bernard Beckwith.

What has been a big turning point in your career?

The best thing was finishing my third book, The Tradition.  It was the hardest work I ever loved, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

What are you working on now?

I’m trying to figure out how to stay healthy while on book tour.

Any future goals?

Did I mention how much I love and miss sleep?

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