Rodney Jones was born on February 11, 1950, in Hartselle, Alabama. He received a BA from the University of Alabama in 1971 and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1973.
His books of poetry include Village Prodigies (Mariner Books, 2017); Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems, 1985–2005 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize; Elegy for the Southern Drawl (Houghton Mifflin, 1999), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Transparent Gestures (Houghton Mifflin, 1989), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Story They Told Us of Light (University of Alabama Press, 1980).
About his work, David Baker writes, “The breadth of his attention is as wide as any poet's currently writing—from songs of play and praise…to the most wrenching laments for the indigent, the hungry, the overlooked.”
His numerous honors include the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence, and the Peter I. B. Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Guggenheim Foundation.
For years Jones served as a professor in the creative writing program at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; he also taught at the University of Cincinnati and DePauw University. He now teaches in the low-residency MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.