Ashley M. Jones was chosen to be Alabama’s first black poet laureate, according to the Magic City Poetry Festival.
According to information released by the festival, Jones, its founder, received the commendation at a Sunday meeting that was part of the Alabama Writers Cooperative’s annual conference. Jones, who will be the youngest to hold the position, follows Jennifer Horne, the 12th person to hold the title.
The poet laureate is “the ambassador of poetry for the state,” according to Sunday’s announcement. Activities include tours of the state “to make appearances at schools, universities, libraries and other state institutions, as well as to give lectures, read poetry and hold workshops at the levels. local and national “.
“When I was a little girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, I made a plan for my life as a poet, and part of that plan – a big, big dream – was to become a State Poet Laureate. Alabama, ”Jones said in the statement released by the festival. “I am so honored to serve my home state as an ambassador, advocate and lover of poetry and all of the people who write it, read it and find new magic in this life. I have dedicated my life so far to making poetry accessible to everyone, celebrating everyone’s voice, and working to take control of our industry. I am so excited to spend the next four years helping bring the poets and poetry of Alabama to life here and beyond. “
In an AL.com interview in 2018, Jones described a long process of loving Birmingham despite its convoluted and often painful racial history. Jones, 28 at the time, said she had to spend some time away from town before she could fully kiss him.
“I don’t think I would have started writing about Alabama if I hadn’t left Alabama,” she said. “You hate where you’ve been from for a long time because of what it’s done to your people in this place. I was told that nothing good was happening. … Being in Miami has helped me realize that this is not true. The way to understand what happened here behind me was to write about my love for (Birmingham) in a way that I didn’t know I had.
“I decided I had to go back,” she said. She recounted the trip in her first book, “Magic City Gospel”.
Once selected, the poets laureates are officially confirmed by the governor for a four-year term. Sunday’s statement said the commissioning ceremony will take place “in the coming weeks.”
Jones’ third collection of poems, “Reparations Now! To be published Sept. 7 by Hub City Press.
In addition to Jones’ work with the Magic City Poetry Festival, the Alabama Writers Cooperative, the Alabama Writers Forum, and PEN Birmingham, she is a fellow of the Creative Writing Faculty of the Alabama School of Fine Arts and the main faculty of Converse. Low residency college master of fine arts program. For more information on his work, visit ashleymjonespoetry.com.