Tyehimba Jess is the author of two poetry collections, the 2004 National Poetry Series award-winning Leadbelly and the Pulitzer Prize winning Olio, heralded as "encyclopedic, ingenious, and abundant" by Publisher's Weekly. The Library Journal has praised both books calling Leadbelly one of the “best poetry books of 2005" and Olio a "daring collection, which blends forthright, musically acute language with portraiture."
Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000 – 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference. Jess also received a 2016 Lannan Literary Award. He is Poetry and Fiction Editor of African American Review and Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island.
Jess' fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Beyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago's Guild Complex, Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry.