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Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones is an African American poet and playwright winner of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets and Writers.  She is author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015) which was Finalist for the PSA’s William Carlos Williams Prize and the Patterson Poetry Prize and featured a Pushcart Prize winning poem.  She also has 10 additional publications: poetry books, chapbooks and anthologies.

Her poems are anthologized in Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon MartinBAX: Best American Experimental Writing, 2016: 2017 Pushcart Prize XLI, Best of Small Presses; Truth to Power: Writers Respond to The Rhetoric of Hate and FearResisting Arrest: poems to stretch the sky;  Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry; Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry; broken land: Poems of Brooklyn; and Best American Poetry, 2000.

Her poetry is featured on The Poetry Foundation and Academy of American Poets web sites and in online and print journals: African Voices, The Agni Review, Bomb, Barrow Street, The Brooklyn Rail, Callaloo, Cutthroat, EOAGH, Catamaran Literary Reader, The Recluse,, Fifth Wednesday, The Oxford American, Taos: Journal of the Arts, The Southampton Review, TriQuarterly, Tin House, and Upstreet.  Her poem “Lave” was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art for the Poetry Suite accompanying Jacob Lawrence: The Migrations Series in 2015.

Mabou Mines, the internationally acclaimed theater company, commissioned and produced ‘Mother’ and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting both premiered in New York City with composers respectively, Carter Burwell and Lisa Gutkin.  She has collaborated with diverse composers and performers including Julie Patton, Jason Kao Hwang, Carolee Schneemann, Lenora Champagne and Ras Moshe Burnett.

She edited “The Future Imagined Differently” for About Place Journal, the biannual publication of Black Earth Institute, where she is a Senior Fellow emeritus, and she also edited the blog projects: 30 Days Hath September in 2012 and 2016 which published new poems by poets during the presidential election campaigns. She edited two radically different anthologies: Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat/ published by Bomb (2009) and Ordinary Women: An Anthology of Poetry by New York City Women (1978).  Her prose, interviews and arts commentary are found in Essence and,,  The Poetry Project Newsletter, The Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog,  The Village Voice,, and Bomb, where she is a contributing editor. Her column, Cosmopolitan in Brooklyn is archived at Calabar Magazine. Interviews are featured in The Poetry Project Newsletter, Bomb, Mosaic and and for and for AFTV (Artist Forum television series).

In 2015, she received an award from The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in support of writing her memoirs, and she has received grants and fellowships for her poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Foundation for Contemporary Art, the New York Community Trust (Oscar Williams/Gene Derwood Award) and a travel/research grant from the Goethe Institute, Boston for travel in Germany.

She curated WORDS SUNDAY, a literary series in Bedford-Stuyvesant 2014-2016 and has curated programs for the Center for Book Arts and as Program Coordinator for The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church where she served as Mentor for Emerge, Surface Be, in its first year.  She served as juror for New York Foundation on the Arts (NYFA); CLMP’s Firecracker Award, Barrow Street and other contests.

She has read her work and led workshops around the U.S. including University of Arizona Poetry Center, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church; Poets House; The Poetry Center at San Francisco State; Furious Flower Poetry Center, James Madison University;  University of New Hampshire; UPenn’s Kelly’s Writers House; Poets at Pace; Bowery Poetry Club;  SUNY Stony Brook; Woodland Patter; University of Kansas, Lawrence; the Arkansas Literary Festival, Little Rock; Center for Women Writers, Salem College; and Split This Rock Poetry Festival.  She has organized and/or served on panels at AWP Conferences and Book fairs in Denver, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.  Currently she is a Lecturer for Adelphi University.  Her web site is

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  1. […] Patricia Spears Jones collects postcards. The award-winning poet and author of many books sometimes uses these postcards to inform the scenarios for her work. Such is the case in her poem Beuys and the Blonde in which she imagines the meeting of Marilyn Monroe and German performance artist Joseph Beuys. The poem speaks to the culture of the 1960s through the lens of two icons of the time. Along with several of her colleagues and friends, Spears Jones edited an anthology of poems by women from diverse backgrounds. Her poem 14th Street New York recalls the procession of a black saint through the streets of New York without police escort amidst city traffic. The poem speaks to a time in the city that has slipped away as the streets have been increasingly sanitized in a sense. Spears Jones points to a desire on the part of those running the city to create an orderly city, a place where there are no surprises in the name of safety. Spears Jones is the 2017 recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets and Writers. Spears Jones acknowledges the arduous work of being a poet. A ten-year gap between her first and second book was largely due to repeated rejections of the second manuscript. “As with any art form you just say I’m in it for the long haul,” Spears Jones says. […]

  2. This is my Big Sister and I am sooooo proud of her, her accomplishments, career and consistency of Spoken Words in dynamic poetry fashion.


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