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Manifest Destiny

October 26, 2021

Listen to Ashley M. Jones reading one of her poems (maybe listen twice in order to capture all that it says).

Ashley M. Jones was recently named Alabama’s poet laureate for 2022-2026. For 91 years Alabama has named a poet laureate. Jones is the first Black person and at 31 she is the youngest to hold the title. The poet laureate selection committee in Alabama stated in their announcement of the appointment that, “Jones is already an ambassador of poetry for the state and will elevate the visibility of all Alabama writers, including those who have been underrepresented in the state’s literary history.”

Reparations Now! is the title of her third published book of poetry. It was released in September of this year. Her desire to see past wrongs repaired comes through loud and clear.

Jones grapples with the tension between advances in racial justice and (in her words): “When we really look at the day-to-day lives of people of color in America, there hasn’t been this sweeping change that we like to pretend that we’ve had.”

An October 21 article in the New York Times states: “The appointment of a Black woman who is unflinching in her criticism of those in power, the censorship of Black history in schools, housing discrimination, police violence and the ways racism and white supremacy persist, is the latest example of the effort to elevate the experiences and work of Black Alabamians.”

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