Ashley M. Jones was born on August 13, 1990, in Birmingham, Alabama. After completing the creative writing program at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, she received a BA in English with a creative writing concentration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, where she was a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellow.
Jones is the author of REPARATIONS NOW! (Hub City Press, 2021), which was longlisted for the PEN/Voelker Award for Poetry; dark//thing (Pleaides Press, 2019), winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize; and Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press, 2017), which won the silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Poetry.
Jones has received fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the Alabama Library Association. Jones was also the winner of the 2018 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize from Backbone Press and the 2019 Lucille Clifton Legacy Award from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Jones has edited at PANK and POETRY.
Of her work, Sonia Sanchez writes, “Sister Ashley’s words continue us on the holy meditation begun in the 1960s about what it means to be human, and I say amen. Awoman. Amen. Awoman. Amen. A womannnnnnnnnnnn.”
In 2021, Jones was commissioned as poet laureate of Alabama. She is the first person of color and the youngest person ever to hold the position. Jones currently lives in Birmingham, where she is founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival, a board member of the Alabama Writers Cooperative, Alabama Writers’ Forum, InToto Creative Arts Forum, and Kids in Birmingham 1963. She co-directs PEN Birmingham, and she is a faculty member in the creative writing department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Jones is also a core faculty member in Converse University’s low-residency MFA program. In 2022, Jones received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
In 2022, Ashley M. Jones was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Jones will implement the Alabama Poetry Delegation, a multi-regional leadership and service initiative which seeks to engage and support poetry projects and poets across the state. Jones will identify five regions and five regional delegates to shepherd poetry projects over three years. Phase one will involve the selection of delegates from each region; during this phase, Jones will work with libraries and literary organizations across the state to distribute an online Regional Delegate application. Delegates will be chosen based on strength of application materials and a demonstrated history of working within the region on poetry projects and events. During phase two, delegates will distribute a nominations page for each region and choose two projects per year. The Alabama Writers’ Forum will assist with Jones’s fellowship project.