For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Announcing the 2021 One Book, One Philadelphia Selection: The Tradition by Jericho Brown

PHILADELPHIA, January 14, 2021—The Free Library of Philadelphia and the Office of the Mayor today announced that The Tradition by Jericho Brown—the program’s first-ever book of poetry—has been chosen as the 2021 One Book, One Philadelphia featured reading selection. The Pulitzer Prize-winning collection challenges fears and beliefs handed down through generations, with powerful poems exploring experiences of Blackness, queerness, masculinity, family, spirituality, and the natural world.

“I begin with love, hoping to end there,” Jericho Brown writes in this Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection that weaves national history with the deeply personal. The Tradition challenges how and why we have become accustomed to terror, from mass shootings to intimate partner violence to racialized violence against Black and brown people. Brown invites readers to experience poems like music: not searching for meaning every step of the way in the lyrics, but following along and letting sound and feelings emerge. He invites us to find new ways of thinking, healing, and re-envisioning our world. 

Now marking its 19th season, One Book, One Philadelphia is an acclaimed literacy and civic dialogue initiative that encourages the entire greater Philadelphia region to come together through reading and discussing the same book. The announcement marks the beginning of the reading period, during which Philadelphians are invited to delve into the featured selection before the official program period, which will take place virtually this season, commences in April.

Running from April 14 to June 9, 2021, One Book, One Philadelphia’s innovative and wide-ranging programs will include dozens of virtual events for all ages inspired by the featured selection, including panel discussions, anti-racism workshops, book discussions, film screenings, creative workshops, poetry readings, musical performances, wellness sessions, and more—which can be found on One Book will partner with arts organizations, nonprofits, artists and educators, and public health partners to present programs that will kick off on April 14, 2021, with a special author event featuring Jericho Brown in conversation with Philadelphia Poet Laureate Trapeta B. Mayson. 

Jericho Brown was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Tradition. His previous collections of poetry include Please (2008), which won the American Book Award, and The New Testament (2014), which won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.

Young readers will join the conversation with youth companion titles The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins and Bryan Collier.

One Book has historically selected outstanding prose literature to serve as the core of our annual reading, discussion and programming period. Philadelphians have crossed borders of the imagination as they walk in the shoes of the characters they read about, developing empathy for people whose lives may differ from their own, while discovering they share a common humanity despite differences of circumstance and background,” said One Book, One Philadelphia Chair Marie Field. “This year we are thrilled to announce poet Jericho Brown's Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, The Tradition, as the featured One Book selection. Autobiographical, powerfully personal, tender and lyrical, using the especially evocative language of poetry, The Tradition will challenge and richly reward Philadelphia's One Book readers during our 19th season.”

Free Library Interim Director Leslie M. Walker said of The Tradition: “We are excited to bring Philadelphians together with poetry for the first time in One Book’s history. This collection examines themes that touch the lives of Philadelphians every day, and meets the moment in examining who we are and what we should expect from each other.”

Founded in 2003 by the Free Library and the Office of the Mayor, One Book, One Philadelphia motivates tens of thousands of people annually to read a featured selection and participate in programming that encourages empathy, understanding, and dialogue among Philadelphia’s many communities. The 2021 One Book program is endowed by the Joseph and Marie Field Fund and sponsored by the Field Foundation. One Book, One Philadelphia is made possible through generous support from the Lenfest Foundation, PECO, The Kauders Foundation, and The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, secured by the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. Media sponsors include WHYY, Keystone Outdoor Advertising, and Harmelin Media.

Along with curriculum materials, One Book will distribute thousands of copies of The Tradition, The Poet X, and Hey Black Child to middle and high school students throughout the School District of Philadelphia. All Free Library locations will have copies of The Tradition and the youth companion titles for customers to borrow with a Free Library card, as well as ebook copies and downloadable audiobooks available for check-out from  


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850