Ashley M. Jones

Born: 1990

Ashley M. Jones is a Black American poet, educator, and community activist, currently serving as the Poet Laureate of Alabama. She was born on August 13, 1990 in Birmingham, Alabama, and traces her origins as a poet to her natural curiosity and love for people-watching. She was her parents’ middle child, and thrived in a household that encouraged her creativity from a young age. When she was twelve years old, Jones began practicing her craft in earnest through the Creative Writing program at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in English with a Creative Writing Concentration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jones moved away from her hometown for the first time to pursue her Master of Fine Arts in poetry at Florida International University, where she was a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellow. The experience gave Jones the opportunity to reflect on her complex relationship with her home state: in her writing, she frequently interrogates what it means to be a Black woman born in twentieth century Alabama, which had been scarred by the horrific 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and other violent hate crimes during the Civil Rights Movement just decades before. She returned to Birmingham in 2015 and became a tireless advocate for the arts, supporting arts education and fostering a thriving literary community throughout the state. She is the author of three acclaimed poetry books: Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press, 2017), dark // thing (Pleiades Press, 2019), and her most recent, REPARATIONS NOW! (Hub City Press, 2021). When she was selected in 2021 to be Alabama’s Poet Laureate at just 31 years of age, she became both the first person of color and the youngest person ever to hold the position. Jones has earned fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the Alabama Library Association. She won the silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Poetry for her debut collection in 2017 and the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize from Backbone Press in 2018, among her many other accolades. Jones resides in Birmingham, Alabama, where she helps guide many of her city’s arts and culture organizations. She also teaches in the Converse University Low Residency MFA Program and at her alma mater, the Alabama School of Fine Arts.