Rodney Jones, author of seven books of poetry and winner of the 2003 Harper Lee Award, is scheduled to read a selection of his works Tuesday, February 10, at Rend Lake College’s Learning Resource Center.
The reading, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the North Oasis pit. Jones is the author of The Story They Told Us of Light (Alabama), The Unborn (Atlantic Monthly), Transparent Gestures (Houghton Mifflin), Apocalyptic Narrative (Houghton Mifflin), Things That Happen Once (Houghton Mifflin), Elegy for the Southern Drawl (Houghton Mifflin) and Kingdom of the Instant (Houghton Mifflin).
According to the Houghton Mifflin Web site, Jones is "line by line, sound by sound, at the top of his form." He has been published in Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review and Southern Review, and his work has appeared in five annual editions of The Best American Poetry.
Jones’ most recent work has been called a "highly accessible collection of poems that address both transcendent and profane aspects of the American South, art and politics, poverty and privilege," according to Houghton Mifflin. Booklist Magazine reported Jones always "shows the intensity of his loving regard for every aspect of life, from the grit of the earth to the silk of the skin and all that churns in the mind."
Other awards to Jones’ credit include the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the Jean Stein Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets Award, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2000, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Elegy for the Southern Drawl.
Jones is an English Professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is heavily involved in its Creative Writing program.
According to Internet research, Jones has been described as a poet "who celebrates the soul of the South in jest and in elegy." He was born in 1950 on a farm outside Falkville, Ala., a town of about 600 people. He began writing at an early age, eventually abandoning his Political Science major at the University of Alabama when he discovered poetry.
Jones received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1971 and finished a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1973.
Jones will be presented with the Harper Lee Award on May 2 in Monroeville, Ala. The Alabama Writers Forum presents this award annually to a living, nationally recognized writer.
The reading is sponsored by the Liberal Arts Cultural Committee. Refreshments will be provided by the Creative Writing Club. Jones will read from Elegy and Kingdom for about one hour and will hold a book signing afterward.