Skip to main content

Tsitsi Ella Jaji

Helen L. Bevington Associate Professor of Modern Poetry
Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708
304D Allen Building, Durham, NC 27708
Office hours Spring 2024 Semester:

Tuesdays 12:00 - 3:00 pm  


Jaji is an associate professor of English at Duke University with expertise in African and African American literary and cultural studies, with special interests in music, poetry, and black feminisms. She previously taught at University of Pennsylvania and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities/Schomburg Center, Mellon Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, and National Humanities Center.

Her book, Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism and Pan-African Solidarity (Oxford), won the African Literature Association’s First Book Prize, as well as honorable mentions from the American Comparative Literature Association and Society for Ethnomusicology. The book traces how exchanges between African American, Ghanaian, Senegalese and South African artists shaped cultural and political liberation projects. She is now at work on two new projects: Cassava Westerns is a study of how global Black writers and artists reimagine the American frontier myth to serve new, local purposes. The second, Classic Black is a study of poetry set to music by black concert music composers. Jaji has received a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation to pursue musicology studies in support of this project.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Jaji is also a poet. Her most recent collection, Mother Tongues (2019) was awarded the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Prize. Both her first collection Beating the Graves (2017) and a chapbook, Carnaval (2014) were published through the African Poetry Book Fund with University of Nebraska Press. Her poems have appeared in Harvard Review, The Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day series, Black Renaissance Noire, Almost Island, Prairie Schooner, Bitter Oleander, etc. and she has read at the Poetry Foundation, Library of Congress, and United Nations, among others.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Helen L. Bevington Associate Professor of Modern Poetry · 2023 - Present English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
Associate Professor of English · 2015 - Present English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Education, Training & Certifications

Cornell University · 2009 Ph.D.