Patricia Spears Jones: 2020 Writer in Residence

Patricia Spears Jones. Photo credit to Mark Poucher

Patricia Spears Jones is author of the poetry collections A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (2015), Living in the  Love Economy (2014), Painkiller: Poems (2010), Femme du Monde (2006), and The Weather That Kills (1995). Art and music tend to inform her poems, and she offers portraits of individuals in transit, engaging themes of class and social change with wry perception. She is the eleventh winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious awards for American poets. She is a recipient of grants and awards from the NEA, NYFA, and a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award in 2015. Essence.com named her one of its “40 Poets They Love in 2010.” Her work is widely anthologized.

A sample of Spears Jones’ poetry

Beulah peel me a grape 

By PATRICIA SPEARS JONES

First, Beulah has no idea where the damn grape is.
She just got her manicure and frankly could care less.
She does find the cocky Cockney cute.
But, so does that glittery Lil and well—
It’s Lil’s Big Show.

Lil has blood on her hands, and rubs in the almond
scented lotion, while she waits for that peeled grape.

Beulah pours a large portion of gin
and recalls the Minstrel shows, Bessie Smith,
chicken dinners in a picnic basket,
and a guy named Roy. He was no prince,
but a king of the bedroom rambles.

Elsewhere, boots are beating the ground, leaving
bloodied feet and untended harvests
as glass breaks across the faces of Polish Jews
and the Spanish Republicans fight black clad insurgents.
More boots, pretty, shiny, well-made boots.
“until the war” says Tom in  The Glass Menagerie.
When America  sits  in a “dark room” and watches
“until the war”.  Death’s stench rolls across
the Atlantic, a powerful fog.  Meanwhile,

The dapper heroes roam landscapes as fake
as their stage names and the heroines roll
up their stockings or sweat the chorus line
But not
Miss Lil and the disobedient Beulah, both swaying
large hips and rolling brown eyes, generously
Awaiting a man’s tongue sucking

For Gertrude Howard (1892-1934)