Reparations Now asks for what's owed. In formal and non-traditional poems, award-winning poet Ashley M. Jones calls for long-overdue reparations to the Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States of America. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
In this, her third collection, Jones deftly takes on the worst of today--state-sanctioned violence, pandemic-induced crises, and white silence--all while uplifting Black joy. These poems explore trauma past and present, cultural and personal: the lynching of young, pregnant Mary Turner in 1918; the current white nationalist political movement; a case of infidelity. These poems, too, are a celebration of Black life and art: a beloved grandmother in rural Alabama, the music of James Brown and Al Green, and the soil where okra, pole beans, and collards thrive thanks to her father's hands.
By exploring the history of a nation where "Black oppression's not happenstance; it's the law," Jones links past harm to modern heartache and prays for a peaceful world where one finds paradise in the garden in the afternoon with her family, together, safe, and worry-free. While exploring the ways we navigate our relationships with ourselves and others, Jones holds us all accountable, asking us to see the truth, to make amends, to honor one another.
Ashley M. Jones is the Poet Laureate of Alabama and the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. She was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, POETRY, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, she co-directs PEN Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival.
In a country where violence and the threat of violence is a constant weather for queer black people, where can the spirit rest?
With lush language, the meditative poems in the Isabella Gardner Award-winning Tenderness examine the fraught nature of intimacy in a nation poisoned by anti-Blackness and homophobia. From the bedroom to the dance floor, from the natural world to The Frick, from the Midwest to Florida to Mexico City, the poems range across interior and exterior landscapes. They look to movies, fine art, childhood memory, history, and mental health with melancholy, anger, and playfulness.
Even amidst sorrow and pain, Tenderness uplifts communal spaces as sites of resistance and healing, wonders at the restorative powers of art and erotic love, and celebrates the capaciousness of friendship.
Derrick Austin is the author of Tenderness, forthcoming from BOA Editions in September 2021, and Trouble the Water (BOA Editions, 2016). His debut collection was honored as a finalist for the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the 2017 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, the 2017 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and the 2017 Norma Faber First Book Award. A chapbook, Black Sand, is forthcoming from Foundlings Press in 2022.
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Reparations Now asks for what's owed.
Magic City Gospel is a love song to Birmingham, the Magic City of the South. In traditional forms and free verse poems, 2015 Rona Jaffe Writer's Award-winner Ashley M. Jones takes readers on an historical, geographical, cultural, and personal journey through her life and the life of her home state.
dark // thing is a multifaceted work that explores the darkness/otherness by which the world sees Black people. Ashley M. Jones stares directly into the face of the racism that allows people to be seen as dark things, as objects that can be killed/enslaved/oppressed/devalued.
In a country where violence and the threat of violence is a constant weather for queer Black people, where can the spirit rest?
Profound, lyric poems interrogate what it means to be fully human as a "queer, black body" in 21st century America.