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Rodney Jones

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Rodney Jones

Rodney Jones was born on February 11, 1950, in Hartselle, Alabama. He received a BA from the University of Alabama in 1971 and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1973.

His books of poetry include Village Prodigies (Mariner Books, 2017); Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems, 1985–2005 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize; Elegy for the Southern Drawl (Houghton Mifflin, 1999), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Transparent Gestures (Houghton Mifflin, 1989), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Story They Told Us of Light (University of Alabama Press, 1980).

About his work, David Baker writes, “The breadth of his attention is as wide as any poet's currently writing—from songs of play and praise…to the most wrenching laments for the indigent, the hungry, the overlooked.”

His numerous honors include the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence, and the Peter I. B. Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Guggenheim Foundation.

For years Jones served as a professor in the creative writing program at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; he also taught at the University of Cincinnati and DePauw University. He now teaches in the low-residency MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Selected Bibliography

Village Prodigies (Mariner Books, 2017)
Imaginary Logic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011)
Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems, 1985–2005 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
Kingdom of the Instant (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)
Elegy for the Southern Drawl (Houghton Mifflin, 1999)
Things That Happen Once (Houghton Mifflin, 1996)
Apocalyptic Narrative and Other Poems (Houghton Mifflin, 1993)
Transparent Gestures (Houghton Mifflin, 1989)
The Unborn (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1985)
The Story They Told Us of Light (University of Alabama Press, 1980)

by this poet

For most in the United States the word brings a phase
when mortars in Vietnam still whistled around them
and the scandal of Nixon and his Machiavellian buds
poured from the news into their subconscious—I see
that Watergate too: the televised hearings, and in particular
one session—Sam Ervin had just asked

It has taken thirty-five years to be this confident
of what happens between the noun and the verb.

Eventually, love goes. The image. Then the thought.
No? Then you are still alive. Only a little. And then,

I do not mean to depress you. Men have to hear
before they see. Sacred vows.