An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections

An Absence I Know I Won't Reclaim

Rodney Jones, Southern Illinois University

Published: 
22 January 2009
Overview: 
Rodney Jones, 2009.

The four poems presented here highlight Rodney Jones's relationship to his hometown of Falkville, Alabama. For Jones, place-bound memories of youthful pleasures frame meditations on mortality and mystery. His teenage years as a football player and rock and roll band member are a starting point from which to measure the distance that time and experience have created between himself and the region in which he grew up.

"An Absence I Know I Won't Reclaim" is part of the Poets in Place series, a Research Collaboration in the Humanities initiative funded through Emory University’s Presidential Woodruff Fund, in collaboration with the Office of the Provost. Series producers are Natasha Trethewey and Allen Tullos.

Readings:
 
Rodney Jones reads the poem "Failed Memory Exercise." Poem text.
 
Rodney Jones reads the poem "I Find Joy In the Cemetery Trees." Poem text.
 
Rodney Jones reads the poem "Homage To Mississippi John Hurt." Poem text.
 
Rodney Jones reads the poem "Sweep." Poem text.
 
Audio Interview with Natasha Trethewey: In this interview at the 2009 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Chicago, Illinois, Rodney Jones talks with Natasha Trethewey about the subjects of their poetry. The conversation includes: how writers find ways to get beyond their own experiences; psychological exile from regional homeland; Jones's family history; discussion of "Elegy for the Southern Drawl;" realism.

About Rodney Jones:

Rodney Jones won the 2007 Kingsley Tufts Prize and was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize for his book Salvation Blues: 100 Poems, 1985-2005. His eight other books include Elegy for the Southern Drawl a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, and Transparent Gestures , which won the 1990 National Book Critics Circle Award. Honors include the Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Hanes Prize, the Harper Lee Award, and the Jean Stein Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Jones is a professor and distinguished scholar at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In 2009, he will be inducted into the Southern Fellowship of Writers.

 

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Recommended Resources:
Map:
Map of Falkville, Georgia.

Published Work in Print:
Jones, Rodney. Apocalyptic Narrative. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

———. Elegy for the Southern Drawl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

———. Kingdom of the Instant: Poems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

———. Salvation Blues: 100 Poems, 1985–2005. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

———. The Story They Told Us of Light. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1980.

———. Things That Happen Once. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

———. Transparent Gestures . Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

———. The Unborn. Boston: Atlantic Monthly, 1985.

Links and Online Publications:
The Atlantic. "Cathedral." (Sept. 2008).
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200809/poem-cathedral

Blackbird, an online journal of arts and literature
Blackbird 4.1 (Spring 2005): Three poems: "The Boomers Take the Field," "Common-Law Kundalini," "The State Line Stripper".
http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v4n1/poetry/jones_r/index.htm

Blackbird 5.1 (Spring 2006): "A Conversation with Rodney Jones" (two-part audio interview with transcript).

The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. Video, audio and text of "The United States."
http://www.griffinpoetryprize.com/shortlist_2007.php?t=5#excerpt

The Poetry Foundation
Eleven archived poems ("Dangers," "First Coca-Cola, "Life of Sundays," "Mortal Sorrows, On Pickiness," "Rain on Tin," "Sitting with Others," "Skink," "the Mosquito," "The Package," "The Troubles the Women Start Are Men"); podcast, "Rodney Jones: Essential American Poets;" article by Rodney Jones, "On Robert Hass's 'Faint Music'."
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=3542

StorySouth
StorySouth (Fall 2006): Five poems: "The Work of Poets," "On the Bearing of Waitresses," "The Bridge," "Ground Sense," "A Defense of Poetry"; "'The Structure of Opposition': The Poetry of Rodney Jones": An Interview with Rodney Jones by Patrick Phillips and Billy Reynolds.

 

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