Jonathan B. Tucker (JBT) is a poet, educator, performer, photographer, and DJ. He has received numerous grants, awards, and artist fellowships from institutions such as the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, and has performed and taught at universities, libraries, detention centers, and museums around the world. His poems have appeared in Howard University’s Amistad Journal alongside the late Amiri Baraka (Howard University, 2011), in Etan Thomas’s anthology Voices of the Future (Haymarket Books, 2012), Poets’ America (Hidden Clearing Books, 2014), and Beltway Poetry Quarterly (Beltway Poetry, 2016).
JBT has been working with young people for over a decade, using his passion for social justice movements, creative writing, performance, and community organizing to motivate and inspire hundreds of students. Formerly the Program Instructor for Operation Understanding DC, a cross-cultural, leadership development program for Black and Jewish high school students, Jonathan is a trained facilitator and has led numerous trips studying the Civil Rights Movement. Born in Washington, DC and raised in Crofton, MD by two career educators, JBT has been an anti-war and human rights activist since 2002 when he joined Boston Mobilization while studying at Boston University. Leading workshops in local high schools on racism, sexism, and the military industrial complex, Boston Mobilization was JBT’s introduction to the nonprofit world of youth programs. At the University of Maryland, College Park, he co-founded TerPoets, a poetry and spoken word student group that hosts open mics and books touring poets for large shows on campus. TerPoets is part of the Jimenez-Porter’s Writers’ House, a living/learning program at UMD, and is still running strong to this day. He graduated cum laude with honors and two bachelor’s degrees (Sociology and Political Science) and was selected to deliver the commencement speech for the college of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
In 2013, 2015, and 2016 JBT won Sister Cities International Arts Grants to bring young poets from Washington, DC to the city of Tshwane, South Africa for poetry and social justice tours of the historic capital city. He performed with his students at the South African State Theatre and led workshops in local townships. In 2012 he was a featured speaker at Lund University in Sweden, and in 2013 he brought two students to Sweden to feature at the Streetposia Conference sponsored by the Lund Center for Middle East Studies. In 2014 JBT was hired as a consultant for the YoungArts Foundation to help coach the United States Presidential Scholars in the Arts awards recipients. He has led workshops and spoken on panels at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) national conference, The Limmud Jewish Learning Festival, The Split This Rock Poetry Festival, and numerous universities across the country and world.
JBT regularly hosts open mics, slams, and other arts events. He is one of the poetry hosts for Busboys and Poets, where he revitalized and popularized the monthly Youth Open Mic Series. He hosts the open mic night at Busboys and Poets 5th & K on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.
As a performance poet he has featured in London, U.K., Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden, Johannesburg and Tshwane, South Africa, and all over the U.S. He has shared stages with champion poets like Saul Williams, Gayle Danley, Anis Mojgani, Ed Mabrey, Elizabeth Acevedo, Clint Smith, Pages Matam, Sonya Renee, the legendary Gil Scott Heron and The Last Poets, American Indian Movement activist and poet John Trudell, politically charged, radical hip-hop emcee Immortal Technique, Palestinian poet and activist Rafeef Ziadah, and several HBO Def Poetry Jam features, including Suheir Hammad, Regie Cabico, Kevin Coval, Black Picasso of the Poem-cees, Carlos Andrés Gómez and Sarah Kay.
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Who I Am Not
I am not Jonathan M. Tucker, the actor. He is a great guy. We know each other and have a friendly battle for googleability based on our shared name. We are not the same person though, as you can see from this picture of two Jonathan Tuckers (i’m the one on the right. the TV and movie star JT is on the left).
I am also not the inspiration for the movie John Tucker Must Die. It was a terrible, formulaic, teenie-bopper flick with Ashante in it. I wrote a poem called Jon Tucker Must Live. It’s better than the movie.
I’m also not the type of person who will tolerate hate speech. Don’t bring your -isms here. We will call it out. We will dismantle it.
DC SCORES blog about me here
i’ve brought my poetry to many people and places. here are a few:
- busboys & poets (www.busboysandpoets.com)
- the legendary spit dat (http://www.wix.com/spitdat/dc)
- artomatic (http://artomatic.org/)
- bloombars (bloombars.com)
- george washington university
- university of maryland, college park
- university of warwick, uk
- university of nebraska, lincoln (www.unl.edu/psc/nsoc.html)
- city at peace (www.cityatpeacedc.org)
- subcontinental drift (http://subcontinentaldrift.com)
- dc geurrilla poetry insurgency (www.guerrillapoets.org)
- beltway poetry slam
- bossa bistro & lounge (www.bossaproject.com)
- dc poetry festival 2009
- the national poetry slam
and conducted workshops for:
- anacostia high school
- ballou high school
- the field school
- burke school
- wilson high school
- bell multicultural high school
- marymount university
- limmud conference (www.limmud.org)
- oseh shalom youth group (www.oseh-shalom.org)
- hart middle school’s project my time fun fridays
- yorktown elementary school
- alexandria youth voices for unity (www.justupthepike.com/2009/05/more-than-what-you-see.html)
- buckingham youth brigade (http://lideres.nclr.org/content/groups/detail/2696)
- alexandria youth council
- trinity university washington
- boston mobilization (www.bostonmobilization.org)
- operation understanding dc (www.oudc.org)
- alexandria teen summit (www.acps.k12.va.us/news2007/nr20070425.php)
- boston social forum (http://bostonsocialforum.org)
- beth el hebrew congregation (www.bethelhebrew.org)
- camp ramah darom (www.ramahdarom.org)
- sol y soul (www.solysoul.com)
- vistage international (www.vistage.com)
- the family academy, alexandria city public schools
and been mentioned in:
- the examiner (http://www.examiner.com/poetry-in-washington-dc/profile-of-a-dc-poet-jonathan-tucker)
- dc scores (http://dcscores.blogspot.com/2012/02/local-poet-and-activist-leads-poetry.html)
- the georgetown voice (www.georgetownvoice.com/2008/11/20/slamming-down-poetry-in-dc/)
- washington city paper (http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/performance-and-dance/2011/03/15/the-dc-youth-poetry-slam-team-and-its-special-accent/)