Ashley M. Jones commissioned as Alabama’s first Black poet laureate

Ashley M. Jones
Ashley M. Jones, Alabama’s youngest and first-ever black Poet Laureate, in her classroom at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Photo via Nathan Watson for the Bama Buzz

On December 1st, officials gathered in Montgomery to commission Ashley M. Jones, a poet and teacher from Birmingham, as Alabama’s next Poet Laureate. At 31 years of age, Ashley M. Jones is both Alabama’s first Black Poet Laureate AND the state’s youngest Poet Laureate.

Keep reading to learn more about what this means.

Meet Alabama’s Newest Poet Laureate

Ashley M. Jones
Ashley M. Jones, Alabama’s youngest and first-ever black Poet Laureate, in her classroom at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Photo via Nathan Watson for the Bama Buzz

Known in Birmingham as the founder of The Magic City Poetry Festival and for her work as a Creative Writing teacher at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Ashley M. Jones is certainly qualified for her role as the state’s newest Poet Laureate.

As a Poet, Ashley M. Jones has releases three books of poetry:

In her latest release, “REPARATIONS NOW!”, Ashley M. Jones uses a collection of formal and non-traditional poems to advocate for reparations for the Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States. The title plays off of Alabama Governor George Wallace’s infamous 1963 Inaugural Address, in which he calls for, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Ashley M. Jones
Gov. Kay Ivey honors incoming poet laureate Ashley M. Jones on Wednesday, December 1st in the old House chamber. Photo via Hal Yeager for the Governor’s Office

In addition to her work educating the next generation of creative writers at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Jones’ poetry has earned her several awards, including:

  • Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award
  • Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards
  • Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry
  • Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts
  • Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize
  • Lucille Clifton Legacy Award

So what are the duties of Alabama’s newest Poet Laureate?

During her four-year term, Ashley M. Jones will advocate for poetry and writing by serving as an ambassador, appearing for lectures at schools, libraries, events and more.

We can’t wait to see what Ashley M. Jones will do next.

To learn more about Ashley M. Jones, follow her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her website to view her work!

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Nathan Watson
Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.
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