Jericho Brown


Jericho Brown grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and worked as a speechwriter for the mayor of New Orleans before earning his PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Orleans and graduated with a BA from Dillard University in 1998. Brown is the author of The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019), winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and finalist for the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry; The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), which received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; and Please (New Issues, 2008), which received the 2009 American Book Award. Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award and has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. He has taught at the University of Houston, San Diego State University, and the University of San Diego, as well as at numerous conferences and workshops. Brown is currently an associate professor of English and creative writing and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and poetry editor at The Believer. Source

Say Thank You Say I'm Sorry

I don’t know whose side you’re on,


But I am here for the people


Who work in grocery stores that glow in the morning


And close down for deep cleaning at night


Right up the street and in cities I mispronounce,


In towns too tiny for my big black


Car to quit, and in every wide corner


Of Kansas where going to school means


At least one field trip


To a slaughterhouse. I want so little: another leather bound


Book, a gimlet with a lavender gin, bread


So good when I taste it I can tell you


How it’s made. I’d like us to rethink


What it is to be a nation. I’m in a mood about America


Today. I have PTSD


About the Lord. God save the people who work


In grocery stores. They know a bit of glamour


Is a lot of glamour. They know how much


It costs for the eldest of us to eat. Save


My loves and not my sentences. Before I see them,


I draw a mole near my left dimple,


Add flair to the smile they can’t see


Behind my mask. I grin or lie or maybe


I wear the mouth of a beast. I eat wild animals


While some of us grow up knowing


What gnocchi is. The people who work at the grocery don’t care.


They say, Thank you. They say, Sorry,


We don’t sell motor oil anymore with a grief so thick


You could touch it. Go on. Touch it.


It is early. It is late. They have washed their hands.


They have washed their hands for you.


And they take the bus home.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Poems of the Everyday

Literary Devices:


a person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence