Jesse Graves grew up in Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, where his ancestors settled in the 1780s. His first collection of poetry, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, was published by Texas Review Press and was awarded the 2011 Weatherford Award in Poetry from Berea College, Book of the Year in Poetry Award from the Appalachian Writers’ Association, and the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. His second volume of poems, Basin Ghosts, also published by Texas Review Press, received the 2014 Weatherford Award in Poetry.
His third book of poems, Specter Mountain, was co-written with William Wright and published by Mercer University Press and received the 2018 Book of the Year Award in Poetry from the Appalachian Writers’ Association. Mercer will also publish his forthcoming volume of poems, Merciful Days, on October 1, 2020, and his essay collection, Said-Songs: Essays on Poetry and Place, in 2022. Graves received the 2014 Philip H. Freund Prize for Creative Writing from Cornell University, and the 2015 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. In 2015, he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame.
Graves has edited several published volumes of poetry and scholarship, including three volumes of The Southern Poetry Anthology (Contemporary Appalachia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, Texas Review Press, Texas A&M UP Consortium), Jeff Daniel Marion: Poet on the Holston (University of Tennessee Press, 2016), and Conversations with Robert Morgan (University Press of Mississippi, 2019). He is at work on two forthcoming scholarly volumes: The Complete Poems of James Agee (University of Tennessee Press, 2022), Time’s Music: Essays on the Life and Work of Robert Morgan (McFarland, 2021). Graves completed his MFA in Poetry Writing from Cornell University, and PhD in English from The University of Tennessee. He is Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at East Tennessee State University.