Patricia Spears Jones


Arkansas born and raised, and a resident of New York City for more than four decades, Patricia Spears Jones is a poet, educator, cultural activist, and anthologist. She is the author of A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems (2015), Painkiller (2010), Femme du Monde (2006), and The Weather That Kills (1995). She is also the author of five chapbooks, including Living in the Love Economy (2014).

Jones coedited the groundbreaking anthology Ordinary Women: An Anthology of New York City Women (1978) and THINK: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat (2009). Her poems are widely anthologized, most notably in Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon MartinBAX: Best American Experimental Writing, 2016, WORD: An Anthology by A Gathering of TribesAfrican American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry.

Jones’s poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals, including the New Yorker, the Brooklyn RailPersimmon Tree: An Online Magazine of the Arts by WomenCutthroat Journal, and Plume. Her essays, blogs, colloquies, and interviews have been published in the collections Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry and The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent; they have also appeared in print and online journals, including The Black ScholarBomb, Mosaic, the Harriet blog on, Pangyrus, the Poetry Project Newsletter, the Rumpus, and the Writers Chronicle.

The Museum of Modern Art commissioned Jones’s poem “Lave” for the exhibition, Jacob Lawrence: The Migrations Series. Mabou Mines commissioned and premiered two plays by Jones: Mother, with music composed by Carter Burwell; and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting, with music composed by Lisa Gutkin. She has performed with composer and violinist Jason Hwang, who has set several poems to music, as well as Ras Moshe Burnett and Luke Stewart.

Jones curated programs as program coordinator for The Poetry Project of St. Marks Church and developed the WORDS Sunday series in Brooklyn and guest curated programs for Center for Book Arts. She has read at many arts and literary venues, along with colleges and universities across the United States. Jones has juried contests, including Barrow Street and the James Laughlin Award for the Poetry Society of America. She has served on several panels for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and as keynote speaker to arts and literary organizations around the United States.

Jones’s awards and honors include the 2015 Barbara Deming Memorial Fund award for her memoir in progress and recipient of 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize. Jones has taught creative writing at Hunter College, Barnard College, Adelphi University, and Hollins University as the 2020 Louis D. Rubin Writer in Residence. She has taught summer poetry workshops at Gemini Ink, Community of Writers, Fine Arts Work Center, Naropa, Rutgers University, Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, and Wild Seeds Workshop for Medgar Evers College. She has also led workshops at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Hugo House, Cave Canem NYC workshops, and at branches of the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. 

Jones is an emeritus fellow for Black Earth Institute and organizer of the American Poets Congress.

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