Click here for PDF.
While my two collections, Femme du Monde and The Weather That Kills are compilations of poems written over several years, the poems that Kweli has selected come from distinct bodies of work written over the past 3 years. Each poem comes from a completed series that I hope will be published as chapbooks.
“Kurt Cobain sings ‘In the Pines’” is from Below the 49th Parallel, a series of poems started in July 2006 and completed by October 2008. America is below the 49th parallel and the poems track my sense of the American psyche during the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration. I riffed off songs and singers including Leontyne Price, Leonard Cohen, Dolly Parton, Fats Domino, Aretha Franklin, ending with Etta James. In this mix is Kurt Cobain, whose voice on “In the Pines” is to me a blue man’s voice. I think that much of his musicality was mis-understood because that key aspect was simply ignored. Also, riffing falls back on my love of jazz and the idea that a sound, a phrase can inspire the musician to take off and go just about anywhere. The poems in Below the 49th Parrallel comes as close I can get to that sense of flight.
“Living in the Love Economy” is from a series of poems that I call the Living Room poems, which were written between January and October of 2009 during a period of economic crisis, both personal and global. The “love economy” phrase comes from Erica Hunt who used it in her talk on poetry for a panel I moderated in 2008, and that phrase stuck with me. The final poem in the series was completed one day before I found employment.
Arkansas born and raised; resident of New York City for more than 3 decades, Spears Jones is author of the poetry collections: Femme du Monde, Tia Chucha Press and The Weather That Kills, Coffee House Press; and two chapbooks: Mythologizing Always (Telephone Books) and Repuestas! (Belladonna), both out of print. Her plays commissioned and produced by Mabou Mines are ‘Mother’ and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting? Editor and contributor to: Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat and Ordinary Women: Poems by New York City Women Poets. Poems are anthologized in Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn; Bowery Women: Poems; Jazz Poems; Poetry After 911; Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café; Best American Poetry 2000; and Blood and Tears: Poems for Matthew Shepard. Contributing editor to Bomb and columnist for Calabar magazines, both located in Brooklyn, NY. She has received grants and awards from the NEA, NYFA, the Goethe Institute and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and residencies at Yaddo, Virginia Center for Creative Arts (VCCA), the Millay Colony and Bread Loaf. She is a fellow at the Black Earth Institute, a progressive think tank and was elected to the VCCA Fellows Council. She works as an arts administrator; poetry and creative writing instructor and fundraiser.