July 5, 2010

Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones [USA]

Born and raised in Forrest City, Arkansas, Patricia Spears Jones, has lived in New York City since the mid-1970s where she has been involved in the downtown poetry and theater scenes working with Mabou Mines, the internationally acclaimed theater collective and as a poet, teacher and former Program Coordinator for the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church. She currently lives in Brooklyn and works as a development professional to keep a roof over her head.

She is the author of The Weather That Kills (Coffee House), Mythologizing Always, a chapbook from Telephone Books and a new collection, Femme du Monde, published in 2006 by Tia Chucha Press. She wrote the play, ‘Mother’ commissioned and produced by Mabou Mines in 1994. A new theater collaboration entitled Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting with composer Lisa Gutkin and four other poets has been commissioned by Mabou Mines to premiere in New York, summer 2006.

Her poems are anthologized in Poetry After 911; bum rush-the page, a defpoetry jam; Best American Poetry, 2000; Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, and The Woman That I Am: The Literature and Culture of Contemporary Women of Color; and Black Sister. Her work can be found in a range of journals including Renaissance Noir/Black Renaissance, TriQuarterly, Rattapallax 12, nocturnes 3, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, court green, Warpland, www.mipoesias, 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, Telephone, Agni, Barrow Street, Callaloo, IKON, Ploughshares, www.poetz.com, The World, and Crazy Horse. Her work is also part of the web event: www.gender.f and www.sandrapayne.com, a web page of award winning African American artist, Sandra Payne.

She has written articles, texts, interviews, and reviews on literature, theater, film and music in Essence, Black Issues Book Review, Bomb, Heresies, and The Poetry Project Newsletter. She is co-editor of the groundbreaking anthology, Ordinary Women: An Anthology of New York City Women and a Contributing Editor of Heliotrope. Her pedagogical essay, “Experience, Experiment: Using Black Poetry in Creative Writing Classes” is anthologized in Sing the Sun Up: Creative Writing Ideas from African American Literature ed. by Lorenzo Thomas. She has also written tracts and catalogue essays on the following visual artists: Richard Powell, Jane Dickson, Rhonda Schaller, William Allen and Barbara Westermann. She was selected by Bomb magazine to interview Lorenzo Pace, for a BOMBlive event which will be aired on WPS1, an internet radio station for PS1, a contemporary art center.

Jones has taught at Poetry Project at St. Marks, Parsons School of Design, Cave Canem, Naropa University and Sarah Lawrence College. She was a panelist for the Yari Yari Pambieri Conference, New York University, 2004. She has served as a juror for the 2005 New York Foundation Poetry Fellowship; the 2002 Poetry in Translation Prize from P.E.N and as a panelist for the New York State Council Literature Program.

She is also the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Foundation of Contemporary Performance Arts now known as the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Goethe Institute for travel and research in Germany, and Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.


Mythologizing Always: 7 Sonnets (New York: Telephone Books Press, 1981); The Weather That Kills (Minneapolis: Coffee House,1995); Femme du Monde (Sylmar, California: Tia Chucha Press, 2006)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Christmas Season 2004

As a walking flood—ninety percent water—ready to spill blood
at the corner, in a kitchen, another image on the flat screen TV

As a walking flood, dry land matters.
As a walking flood, summits attract.

Hill tops, tree tops, the roofs of houses:
slanted, sodded, flat enough for helicopters.

What we cling to when our bodies encounter heavier water,
damaged wind, the sparkle of bombs’ tracings

on streets as far or near
as the names given

By whom
when earth shifts and time speeds up.

We slosh and sway in streets with names given
to meet our need for comfort
Wine, food, lovers’ kisses

Wet things

Then harsh enough
To flash our names away

Reprinted from Bomb, no. 92 (Summer 2005). Copyright ©2005 by Patricia Spears Jones.

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