Patricia Spears Jones

I always think of myself as evoking the blues in my poetry, and the blues are never ‘happy’ even when they’re ecstatic.There’s a sense of temporality of life. We’re only here for a brief time. There is only so much we can do. People have enemies and there are difficulties. And sometimes there’s great music and great sex to lighten the load.

Jackson Poetry Prize Winner




Hers is a poetics of dialogue, and her poems are in deep conversation with a dizzying array of other thinkers and artists, including Catullus, Billie Holiday, Rufino Tamayo, Pablo Neruda, Etta James, Sylvia Plath, Aretha Franklin, Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, Mary J. Blige, Kara Walker, Fats Domino, Kurt Cobain, and Jacques Derrida. She is engaged with painting, music, fashion, film, and theater in America and beyond its shores. Patricia Spears Jones’ poems are made of fever, bones, and breath. The fever of eros, the bones of family and friends, and the breath of everyday existence.
— Jackson Prize Citation
The past and the present collide as Jones (Painkiller) delivers a sumptuous exploration of race, class, sex, love, and history filtered through the tumultuous backdrop of American idealism...Jones’s poems, written during the past two decades, vibrate with a noticeable hunger and irresistible energy, unashamed to explore the nuances of intimacy via the looming specters of pop culture and history.
Publisher's Weekly

Arkansas born and raised; resident of New York City for more than four decades, Patricia Spears Jones is the recipient of The Jackson Poetry Prize, one the most prestigious awards for American Poets via Poets & Writers, Inc.  The $50,000 prize is among the most substantial given to an American poet and is designed to provide what all poets need: time and encouragement to write.  She is the eleventh winner. In language that is simultaneously sensuous, wise-cracking, explicit, and rollicking, Spears Jones describes a world rich in beauty and longing, with pain tempered always by joy.

Spears Jones was named by Essence as one of its “40 Poets They Love” in 2010. She  is author of the poetry collections: Painkiller and Femme du Monde from Tia Chucha Press and The Weather That Kills from Coffee House Press and five chapbooks including Living in the Love Economy. Her fourth collection, A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems is out from White Pine Press (White Pine Press Distinguished Poets series) which features her 2016 Pushcart Prize winning poem, “Etta James at the Audubon Ballroom.”  She was a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the Paterson Prize from the Passaic County Community College. Her work is widely anthologized. In 2015 she received a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund award for her memoir in progress.


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