Patricia Spears Jones


photo credit, Rachel Eliza Griffiths

photo credit, Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Arkansas born and raised; resident of New York City for more than four decades, Patricia Spears Jones is the recipient of The Jackson Poetry Prize, one the most prestigious awards for American Poets via Poets & Writers, Inc.  The $50,000 prize is among the most substantial given to an American poet and is designed to provide what all poets need: time and encouragement to write.  She is the eleventh winner. Here is the information with the citation:

Spears Jones was named in as one of its “40 Poets They Love” in 2010. She  is author of the poetry collections: Painkiller and Femme du Monde from Tia Chucha Press and The Weather That Kills from Coffee House Press and five chapbooks including Living in the Love Economy. Her fourth collection: A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems is out from White Pine Press (White Pine Press Distinguished Poets series) which features her 2016 Pushcart Prize winning poem, “Etta James at the Audubon Ballroom.”  She was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the Paterson Prize from the Passaic County Community College, which was won by her Vermont College advisor, Mark Doy. Her work is widely anthologized. In 2015 she received a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund award for her memoir in progress.

She is the editor of “The Future Differently Imagined”, an issue of About Place Journal, the online publication of Black Earth Institute and was editor and contributor to the blog project: Thirty Days Hath September: Another Kind of Noise ( (2012) and a 2016 version; Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat ( ) (2009)  and co-editor of the long out of print, ground-breaking anthology Ordinary Women: An Anthology of Poetry by New York City Women (1978).  She also published W.B.#1 a mimeo magazine which included works by Lee Breuer, Robin Messing, Larry Eigner, Bill Kushner, Levi Frazier, Jr. and Ted Greenwald in 1975.

Spears Jones has been a culture maven for four decades. She was the first African American programmer as Program Coordinator at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church where two decades later she served as Mentor for Emerge, Surface, Be, a new fellowship program. She ran the esteemed New Works Program for the Massachusetts Council of Arts and Humanities (1989-1991) and was Director of Planning and Development at The New Museum of Contemporary Art (1994-96).  She is also actively involved in a variety of formal and informal organizations involved with progressive politics, social justice, feminism, the environment, and multi-culturalism, best seen in her appointment as Senior Fellow for The Black Earth Institute.  She curates WORDS SUNDAY, a literary and performance series focused on Brooklyn based writers and artists. She teaches for CUNY.

She served on the boards of Mabou Mines, the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church and Artsgarden l0cated in Holland.   Her cultural commentary at ; Bomb, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Black Issues Book Review, The Boston Globe, and Essence and She has also written catalogue essays for diverse artists including Jane Dickson, Rhonda Schaller and Rick (Richard J.) Powell.   “Cosmopolitan in Brooklyn” ran from 2006-2009 in Calabar Magazine and she is a contributing editor to Bomb Magazine where interviews with Cornelius Eady and Ida Applebroog were published along with articles on  Carl E. Hazlewood, Tony Medina, El Anatsui, Wesley Brown and forthcoming with Emma Amos.  For tribes, she has published reviews and commentaries on Yuko Otomo,  Toni Morrison, Dawoud Bey, Carrie Mae Weems, and Tonya M. Foster.  She has been interviewed television broadcast by AFTV, radio broadcasts bt Neil Silberblatt and DuEwa Frazier.  Interviews with Rochelle Spencer for Mosaic Magazine and Poets & Writers,  Lewis Wars for,  and Barbara Henning for the Poetry Project Newsletter are published and in a video document at Furious Flower Poetry Center in a conversation with Afaa Michael Weaver.



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