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Salvation Blues


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About the Author

RODNEY JONES is the author of eleven books of poems. His many honors include the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Harper Lee Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Award, and he has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize. He teaches in the low-residency MFA creative writing program at Warren Wilson College and lives in New Orleans and Southern Illinois.


Jones, who grew up in rural Alabama, and whose mother and grandparents (the poems tell us) were farm workers, pursues gritty anecdotes that place him within a Southern narrative tradition from Robert Penn Warren to Yusef Komunyakaa and Dave Smith. In this culling from six previous volumes and from new work, Jones (Elegy for the Southern Drawl) portrays "cows named for friends/ and fated for slaughterhouses"; "the tongue-tied, the murderous, the illiterate/ And the alcoholic"; waitresses in "the Benzedrine light of waffle houses"; "a semi loaded with bridge girders"; mules, pigs, and hard physical labor; "fingers cracked by frost/ And lacerated by Johnson grass." As much as he chronicles hard lives, Jones (who teaches at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale) shows an unusual intellectual reach and a large verbal ambition. While this ample book will serve many readers as an introduction to Jones's work, it also contains surprises for his fans: 24 new poems (some his best yet) build on his descriptive strengths as they incorporate political commentary, remembering high school, conceiving the end of the human species or excoriating politicians who sing the "Low-Down Sorry Right-Wing Blues." (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"For most of twenty years I have been reading Rodney Jones's poems, admiring the daring of his mind and attention, the intimacy of his own articulation . . . Salvation Blues is welcome and should bring him new discoverers." --W.S. Merwin

"[Jones] is brilliant, wise, deeply sane, incredibly knowledgeable about the craft, tender, moving, honest, and -- pure. I love reading him. He gives me hope for poetry." --Gerald Stern "Reading his poems [is] a continually liberating experience. This is work that really matters." --Carl Dennis "It's Jones's age-defying distinction to have mobilized a moral intelligence that's sufficiently vast to contain multitudes." --Book World The Washington Post "[Jones's Salvation Blues] must surely place him in the pantheon of great living American poets." St. Louis Post-Dispatch "[A] fine collection." Atlanta Journal Constitution "While this ample book will serve many readers as an introduction to Jones's work, it also contains surprises for his fans: 24 new poems (some of his best yet)." Publishers Weekly "Jones has a rich, Southern voice, disarmingly smooth, with a kick like moonshine and as satisfying as an afterglow. A master storyteller." Library Journal

Jones (Elegy for a Southern Drawl) writes of novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer's visit to his college campus and of the older man's sage advice to the students: "I wish someone would write about love." Jones took up that challenge, perhaps not in the traditional sense, but his poems-these are collected from 20 years and six volumes, along with new work-have found much to love, and to celebrate, in this world. "The old people in the valley where I was born/ Still held to the brogue, elisions, and coloratura/ Of the Scotch-Irish, and brandished/ Like guns the iffens, you'nses, and narys/ That linked by the labyrinthine hollers of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains." Jones has a rich, Southern voice, disarmingly smooth, with a kick like moonshine and as satisfying an afterglow. A master storyteller, he offers language crisp and colorful, and his interests are wide-ranging. He delights in digression, following the trails of words, suggestions, and seductions. Attentive to detail and nuance but aware, as well, of the vista-the big picture-Jones evokes both the old and the new South in memorable lines. In poems that are smart and fun and honest to their core, he dispels tired myths and stereotypes, creating entirely new ones to our delight. Highly recommended.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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