Rockhurst Hosts Poet Rodney Jones

Rockhurst University welcomed author and poet Rodney Jones to their campus last Thursday.

 

During the Midwest Poets Series, Jones read several of his older poems and some from his most recent book, Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems 1985-2005 (2006).

 

Born in 1950rural Alabama, Jones described his childhood and youth as “very much like being a part of another age.” Many of his poems described his life, his memories and his vision of social justice.

 

His poems ranged from solemn and earnest to romantic and powerful. Jones graced the audience with more of his better-known poems such as “Rain on Tin” and “Life on Sundays”.

 

In addition to the poetry reading, Jones discussed the challenges of his writing process.

 

“Sometimes something good comes to me, I write it down,” Jones said. “Then, I keep it for about ten days. Then I realize it’s something that somebody said before.”

 

He noted how all his poems have “two times,” or double narratives. Almost all of Jones’ poems tend to be double-narratives, which not only involve a story, but also an idea of the story.

 

“This is a book that deals with six kids from a small town…during the hard time of Vietnam,” Jones said.

 

His stories are carefully written and intimate, partly brought out by his learned reading style.

 

“Many of our neighbors were illiterate,” Jones said, “but books were the alternative and, even among the illiterate, there was a vital oral tradition like stories, jokes, music and memorized scripture.”

 

His work is known for its investigation of place and memory and its use of narrative and image.

 

 

Jones has published in The Oxford Book of Contemporary American Poetry and The Best American Poetry eight times. He has also been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

 

 

Having been called one of the nation’s “best, most generous, and most brilliantly readable poets” by the Southern Review, Rodney Jones continues his masterful storytelling and voices his poetry.

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