(April 14, 2015)
Vessel is available in print and e-book!
The imagination of a girl, the retelling of family stories, and the unfolding of a rich and often painful history: Parneshia Jones’ debut collection explores the intersections of these elements of experience with refreshing candor and metaphorical purpose. A child of the South speaking in the rhythms of Chicago, Jones knits “a human quilt” with herself at the center. She relates everything from the awkward trip to Marshall Fields with her mother to buy her first bra to the late whiskey-infused nights of her father’s world. In the South, “lard sizzles a sermon from the stove”; in Chicago, we feast on an “opera of peppers and pimento.” Jones intertwines the stories of her own family with those of historical Black figures, including Marvin Gaye and Josephine Baker. Affectionate, dynamic, and uncommonly observant, these poems mine the richness of history to create a map of identity and influence.
PRAISE FOR VESSELVessel chosen as one of 12 Books to Savor by Oprah Magazine!
"In the tradition of Brooks, Hansberry, Danner, and Walker, Parneshia Jones, dutiful daughter and attentive poet-witness of the Black Chicago Renaissance (1930 - 1950) imagines and serves memory to us out of a teeming black skillet of life. There is something about black girls born and raised in Chicago, with a pencil behind her ear, that alters the alphabet from finite to infinite. Jones has written a sweet unforgettable first child." --Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split
"Our need to tell stories comes from an almost equal need for hard truth and Parneshia Jones’s gorgeous poetry collection, Vessel, is full of bold lyricism and elegant storytelling. Her poems force us to question our skin politics, our bent up genealogies, our gender binaries, and the ways these artifices stack up to weigh us down. Whether the imperative is coming from Mae West, Sylvia Plath, or Jones herself, these poems make clear that 'The screams behind the voice reveal her truth.' Right now, when it can be so difficult to be heard over all of the alarmingly vocal racism and sexism, we need Jones’s fearless poems to speak for us." --Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke
"From bra-shopping to haiku to a tribute to Josephine Baker, Parneshia Jones touches all poetic bases in this pioneering book. Whether the scene is somewhere in Mississippi or in today's Chicago, she gives us a panorama that only a young inspired black woman could create, not sociologically but poetically. That's as rare these days as visionary poetry itself, but Parneshia Jones does it. She puts the music back into language with an energy that sings off the page." --Samuel Hazo, Director of the International Poetry Forum and author of Sexes: The Marriage Dialogues
PARNESHIAJONES (American - )
Raised on the Midwestern North Shores of Evanston, IL, Parneshia Jones spent her childhood in the Evanston Public Library and her mother’s kitchen.
Writing and life intersected as an undergraduate at Chicago State University with a chance meeting with the late Gwendolyn Brooks. This one-on-one meeting of three poems, red marks and the words, “Hold On!” gave Jones lift-off into the literary world. Under the tutelage of Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis, Haki R. Madhubuti, and some of the most brilliant teaching minds that made up the English department at CSU, Jones earned her B.A. in English/Creative Writing.
The world of publishing unveiled itself with the overflowing shelves, mahogany floors, and the rich history of Third World Press, the oldest independent publisher of Black thought and literature in the United States. It was within these stained glass and poetry filled quarters, Parneshia embraced the idea of a career in publishing.
Parneshia began working for Northwestern University Press at the age of twenty-two as a marketing assistant. For the past twelve years, she has worked with writers of Nobel, Pulitzer Prize, and Academy Award winning caliber. Her experience with authors from around the globe and publishing in the fields of poetry, fiction, theater and performance, literature in translation and philosophy, has allowed for Parneshia to travel the globe, all for the love of literature. Currently, Parneshia assumes the position of Sales and Subsidiary Rights Manager and Poetry Editor for the TriQuarterly Books imprint. Her first poetry acquisition, Head Off & Split: Poems, by Nikky Finney won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. Her second acquisition, The Abundance of Nothing, by Bruce Weigl, was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize (2013). Her collaborations with the Cave Canem Foundation allowed for the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press 2nd Book Prize for an African American poet in addition to numerous collaborations with poetry organizations across the globe.
Parneshia earned a M.F.A degree from Spalding University (a top-10 low residency MFA program, Poets & Writers) and completed the Yale Publishing Course while working for Northwestern University Press.
Recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award, Parneshia is a Ragdale Fellow and published in several anthologies including She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney, as well as Poetry Speaks Who I Am, a book/CD compilation. Jones is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of Black voices from Appalachia and serves on the board of Cave Canem and GlobalWrites. She has performed her work all over the United States, including the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City, the Art Institute in Chicago, and Vanderbilt University. Her poetry has been commissioned by Art for Humanity in South Africa, Shorefront Legacy, and featured on Chicago Public Radio. In 2014, Parneshia was named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine. Her first collection, Vessel: Poems, is published by Milkweed Editions (April, 2015).
"Parneshia Jones is pure literary juke — a record's smoothest rotation, the roll steady of the Gulf. She's cool Chicago late nights and the slow crawl of Sunday morning in New Orleans. Parneshia is a world of a woman — Renaissance Conjure Priestess of planet earth and the way way beyond. We want her words filling our shelves, our lungs, our hearts. Eyes forward; hands on the wheel — Parneshia Jones knows every curve of the road, the byway, highway — and we’re always along for the ride." --Ellen Hagan, author of Hemisphere
MediaParneshia featured on Poets & Writers Podcast from Poets & Writers Live!
Parneshia reads at Blanc Gallery in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood (filmed by David Flores)
WEBZ (Chicago Public Radio) Feature: Parneshia reads a poem dedicated to her stepfather.
Newcity Feature: Who Really Books in Chicago
Guild Complex: 25 Writers to Watch in Chicago
The Poetry Foundation
Vessel has a new drink! Dave Wheeler from Shelf Awareness wrote a Literature and Libations piece and featured a wonderful shout out to Vessel with a drink to match! The Rattlesnake!
Chicago Tribune's Me, My Shelf and I
ReviewsVessel reviewed in The Literary Review!
Washington Independent Review of Books
Savvy Verse and Wit
Booklist reviews Vessel
Los Angeles Review of Books reviews Vessel
Publishers Weekly reviews Vessel
PublicationsShe Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems. Edited by Caroline Kennedy. Hyperion Books
44 on 44: Forty-Four African American Writers on the Election of Barack Obama 44th President of the United States. Edited by Sonia Sanchez, Lita Hooper and Michael Simanga. Third World Press
Poetry Speaks: Who I Am (Anthology and CD compilation). Edited by Elise Pashen. Source Books
America! What’s My Name? The “Other” Poets Unfurl the Flag. Edited by Frank X Walker. Wind Publications
Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. Edited by Nikky Finney. University of Georgia Press
Awards*2011 Aquarius Press Legacy (Willow Books) honoring a woman writer of color from the American Midwest actively involved in providing opportunities for other writers.
*Commissioned poem for the City of Chicago, Art for Humanity and Durban, South Africa (2009)
*Commissioned poem for ShoreFront Legacy Center (2009)
*Margaret Walker Short Story Award—Third Place, College Language Association (2003)
*Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award (2002)
Publicity BioParneshia Jones is the author of Vessel: Poems (Milkweed Editions). After studying creative writing at Chicago State University, earning an MFA from Spalding University, and studying publishing at Yale University, Jones has been honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award. Her work has also been anthologized in She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney. A member of the Affrilachian Poets, she serves on the board of Cave Canem and Global Writes. She currently holds positions as Sales and Subsidiary Rights Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press. Parneshia Jones lives in Chicago.