To Understand the World: Why Ashley M. Jones Writes Poetry

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Photo by Katherine Webb

I have a confession: I am jealous of poet and educator Ashley M. Jones.
I don’t envy Jones because last year, at the ripe old age of 25, she was one of only six winners of the 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a prestigious award given annually to support emerging women writers with exceptional talent. I don’t envy her because she landed a dream creative writing teaching job at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) as soon as she finished her graduate work at Florida International University. I’m not jealous of Jones’s book deal (her first full-length poetry collection will hit bookshelves in November) and I don’t envy her because last yearB-Metro gave Jones their Fusion Award, an honor given to Birmingham residents who champion diversity, inclusion, and acceptance.
I am jealous of Jones because she is in love—with poetry.
Sure, I, too, as a writer and an English instructor at ASFA, have great affection for the written word, but compared to Jones’s passion for poetry, the relationship I have with writing is mere puppy love. Jones’s love for poetry is evident not only in her written work, but in every conversation you have with her, in every lecture she gives to her students at ASFA, and even in every post she makes to her social media channels. On any given day you’ll find her on Facebook gushing over a new book of poetry she just bought or old work she has just rediscovered. On Instagram you can see her as giddy as a schoolgirl with a crush on the boy next door as she posts pictures of her preparation for her latest lesson. And during football season, when her fellow Alabamians are posting chants of “Roll Tide” and “War Eagle,” Jones simply declares, “Go poetry!”
“Whenever I post on Facebook about poems that I like, it’s usually because I’ve read the poem and caught the Holy Ghost from the poem,” Jones says, laughing and raising her hands in the air in praise of poetry.  “The way that people use words and even the way their message is conveyed [through poetry] just seems more immediate, sometimes more sassy, sometimes more painful. It’s just juicier. And so that’s what I love about reading it and writing it.”
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