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Patricia K(ay) Spears Jones
Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2005. From Literature Resource Center.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2018 Gale, a Cengage Company


  • (Editor, with others) Ordinary Women: An Anthology of New York City Women Poets, 1978.
  • Mother (play), produced Off-Broadway, 1994.
  • The Weather That Kills (poetry), Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1995.

Contributor of poems to journals and anthologies.

Poet and playwright. Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, New York, NY, grants program director, 1977- 81; Heresies Collective, New York, NY, administrator, 1982-83; Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, New York, NY, program coordinator, 1984-86; New Works Project, Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, Boston, program specialist, 1987-89; Film News Now Foundation, New York, NY, program director, 1990-91; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY, grant writer, 1991-94, director of planning and development, 1994-96; consultant, 1996--. W. B. magazine, editor, 1975.

Award in poetry, 1986, and fellowship, 1993, both from New York Foundation for the Arts; travel grant, Goethe Institute, 1989; Divers Forms Artist Projects grant, 1991; Opera Music Theater Program Award, 1993, and fellowship, 1994, both from National Endowment for the Arts; Bread Loaf Writers Conference fellowship, 1996; Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts Award, 1996.

Born February 11, 1951, in Forrest City, AR. Education: Rhodes College, B.A., 1973; Vermont College, M.F.A., 1992. Addresses: Home: 426 Sterling Place, Apt. 1C, Brooklyn, NY 11238.


Patricia Spears Jones writes poetry that explores her life history as well as a variety of other subjects, including music and travel. The black civil rights movement, the AIDS epidemic, and other major events of the twentieth century surface in her poetry, as does her love of jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and other styles of music.

Spears Jones's poetic "method is to allow the poem to associatively and imaginatively expand into unusual and epiphanic intersections," commented an essayist for Contemporary Women Poets. A key example of this, according to the essayist, is "The Perfect Lipstick," starting out with Christopher Columbus's expeditions, moving on to slavery, and later delving into a discussion of lipstick shades and drag queens. The poem was published in Spears Jones's The Weather That Kills. Other pieces in the book include "Glad All Over," in which the poet, an African-American, recalls the civil rights movement's impact on herself and her family, and "You Just Got the Call," a meditation on artist Keith Haring's death from AIDS-related complications. A Publishers Weekly reviewer thought the collection displayed "a fluent intelligence" as Spears Jones makes connections among subjects "with riveting shifts of scale and focus."

The volume also includes several poems on music, such as "The Birth of Rhythm and Blues," which juxtaposes the poet's birth with developments in musical genres and deals with such artists as Billie Holiday and Little Richard. Spears Jones helps the reader to find "new ways of seeing and hearing musical history," noted David Earl Jackson in the Tri-State Defender of Memphis, Tennessee. He also found that her poems are sometimes musical themselves, as she takes "time to set the theme and tempo of the poem, then falls in sync with the 'groove.'" The Contemporary Women Poets contributor remarked that Spears Jones frequently highlights music's relationship to other forces and events: It can be an inspirational tool for social protest movements, a means of connecting with a parent, or something that offers a beautiful contrast to the difficulties people may encounter throughout their lives.

Spears Jones's "poems that address music and travel are never routine," the essayist added. "Her sensibility is fresh, curious, and vital." The essayist also noted that the author's poetry exhibits a mature yet "romantic" approach to love and sex. Her poems are full of "striking images which are potent with surprise and insight," the writer related, concluding that they make a case for poetry to have a significant role in the world, as Spears Jones's "implication is that because the masses of humans embrace destruction, it is the task of the poets to work towards the world's salvation."

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)
"Patricia K(ay) Spears Jones." Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000133852