Ashley M. Jones received an M.F.A. in Poetry from Florida International University (FIU), where she was a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellow. Her debut poetry collection, Magic City Gospel, was published by Hub City Press in January 2017, and it won the silver medal in poetry in the 2017 Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the Academy of American Poets, Tupelo Quarterly, Prelude, Steel Toe Review, Fjords Review, Quiet Lunch, Poets Respond to Race Anthology, Night Owl, The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, pluck!, Valley Voices: New York School Edition, Fjords Review: Black American Edition, PMSPoemMemoirStory (where her work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016), Kinfolks Quarterly, Tough Times in America Anthology and Lucid Moose Press’ Like a Girl: Perspectives on Femininity Anthology.
She served as Official Poet for the City of
Sunrise, Florida’s Little Free Libraries Initiative from 2013-2015, and her
work was recognized in the 2014 Poets and Writers Maureen Egen Writer’s
Exchange Contest and the 2015 Academy of American Poets Contest at FIU. She was
also a finalist in the 2015 Hub City Press New Southern Voices Contest, the
Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Contest and the National Poetry
Series. She received a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and a 2015
B-Metro Magazine Fusion Award. She was an editor of PANK Magazine.
She currently lives in Birmingham, Ala., where she is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
Magic City Gospel is a love song to Birmingham, the Magic City of the South. In traditional forms and free verse poems, 2015 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award-winner Ashley M. Jones takes readers on an historical, geographical, cultural, and personal journey through her life and the life of her home state. From De Soto’s “discovery” of Alabama to George Wallace’s infamous stance in the schoolhouse door, to the murders of black men like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner in modern America, Jones weaves personal history with the troubled, triumphant, and complicated history of Birmingham, and of Alabama at large. In this assured debut, you’ll find why “gold is laced in Alabama’s teeth.” In the ghosts and the grits, this collection speaks to Jones' generation and beyond: “Let me wash you in Alabama heat / and tell you who you are.” Magic City Gospel is a book of personal, political, and cultural history, whose red dirt stained pages offer a fresh and unvarnished gaze on Birmingham, Alabama, and America.