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May 9, 2019

#Poetry Pulitzer Prize 2017 Olio

by N@ncy

  • Author: Tyehimba Jess
  • Title: Olio
  • Published: 2016
  • Genre: poetry …and then some!
  • Cover: pictogram.
  • ..if you hold the book at a distance OLIO
  • …you will see a face!
  • OLIO:  same if you read it left–>right or  left<– right!
  • Title:  OLIO =  middle part of a minstrel show.
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan



  1. WINNER 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
  2. WINNER 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry
  3. WINNER 2017 Book Award from the Society of Midland Authors for Poetry
  4. 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for poetry
  5. 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist
  6. 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award finalist
  7. Named a Top Poetry Book of 2016 by Library Journal



  1. Olio centers on African-American artists and creators,
  2. an interest spawned from Jess’ curiosity about the origin of black music.
  3. Tyehimba Jess presents the
  4. …sweat and story behind America’s blues
  5. work songs and church hymns.
  6. Part fact, part fiction.
  7. He weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine
  8. …the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers
  9. directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I.


Strong point:

  1. Tyehimba Jess has introduced me to a
  2. new type of poem: sonnet
  3. where 2 voices are counterpoints and syncopated.
  4. Two speakers are made to finsh each other’s sentences
  5. composing the same thought but
  6. …from a different position.
  7. Poem: General Bethune  v. W.C. Handy
  8. The exploitive master/ manager of Blind Tom (austic pianist)
  9. and  a great blues composer have a eery conversaton! (pg 22)



  1. Jess has created a poetry book as a  ‘world’
  2. and not a private place in his mind.
  3. He intertwines blues, history, letters, legend
  4. persona poems, prose poems, interviews
  5. song, culture …and illustrations.
  6. I learned about  Blind Tom Wiggens (austic pianist)
  7. Edmonia Lewis (sculptor), Fisk Jubilee Singers
  8. Scott Joplin, John Boone….and many more.
  9. The book is an experience
  10. …that is the only way I can
  11. describe it!
  12. PS: Tyehimba Jess’s personal persona
  13. …is Julius Monroe Trotter in the book.
  14. He interviews some acquaintances of Scott Joplin.
  15. #JustSaying


  1. This is not a book where you tie a poem to a chair
  2. with a rope and attempt to beat out its meaning.
  3. You have to take your time….read a few poems a
  4. day then close the book.
  5. I tried to discover the  starting subject and
  6. …then the discovered subject in a poem.
  7. There is always a door to be opened the
  8. will lead you down another path.
  9. I’ve reviewed one poem to show you what I mean.
  10. #MustRead….really, amazing!


Blind Tom Plays for Confederate Troops, 1863   (pg 15)

  1. Shape is the familiar left margin.
  2. Line breaks are  punctuation.
  3. 1 stanza: a continuous musical flow in the poem.
  4. Starting subject:
  5. Tom is a blind piano player stomping his feet with the music
  6. …for the REB’s ..the Confederate soldier sing-a-long.
  7. Discovered subject:
  8. introduced by a  “door in the poem”….
  9. the word freedom (line 8/14 lines).
  10. The second half of the poem
  11. …gives us  the stark message that:
  12. Tom still is somebody’s property
  13. …his Dixie sounds more like a work song.
  14. “…ringing with slaver’s song at master’s bidding.”


Last thoughts:

  1. This a short poetry review with the sole goal of
  2. ..describing a book of contemporary poetry.
  3. I’ve  stopped with the  compulsion to say everything
  4. …just want to give you
  5. …a few observations with the hope
  6. …that you will read more
  7. #Poetry !
Read more from poetry, Pulitzer

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