Magic City Gospel is a love song to Birmingham, the Magic City of the South. In traditional forms and free verse poems, 2015 Rona Jaffe Writer's Award-winner Ashley M. Jones takes readers on a historical, geographical, cultural, and personal journey through her life and the life of her home state. This debut poetry collection is an exploration of race, identity, and history through the eyes of a black woman from Alabama. From De Soto's "discovery" of Alabama to George Wallace's infamous stance in the schoolhouse door, to the murders of black men like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner in modern America, Magic City Gospel weaves its story through time, weaving Jones' personal history with the troubled, triumphant, and complicated history of Birmingham, and of Alabama at large. In Magic City Gospel's pages, you'll find that "gold is laced in Alabama's teeth," but you will also see the dark underbelly of a state and a city with a storied past, and a woman whose history is inextricably linked to that past.
Ashley M. Jones received an MFA from Florida International University. She was a finalist in Hub City Press’ New Southern Voices Contest, Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Contest, and the National Poetry Series. Her work has been published by the Academy of American Poets, pluck!, PMSPoemMemoirStory, Prelude, Kinfolks Quarterly, and other journals. She received a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and a 2015 B-Metro Magazine Fusion Award. She is an editor of [PANK] Magazine, and she teaches creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
Hour of the Ox received the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, selected by Crystal Ann Williams, who called it "a timeless collection written by a poet of exceptional talent and grace, a voice as tough as it is tender." Cancio-Bello examines the multiplicity of distance, wanderlust, and grief at the intersection between filial and cultural responsibility. Desires are sloughed off, replaced by new ones, re-cultivated as mythos. These poems offer a complex and necessary new perspective on the elegiac immigrant song.
Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), which won the 2015 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and the 2016 Florida Book Awards bronze medal, and the chapbook Last Train to the Midnight Market (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She serves as cofounding editor for Print-Oriented Bastards, producer for The Working Poet Radio Show, and a program coordinator for Miami Book Fair.
Cancio-Bello is the recipient of a Kundiman Asian American Poetry Fellowship, a John S. and James L. Knight Fellowship, and two Academy of American Poets Prizes. She holds degrees from Florida International University (MFA, Creative Writing) and Carnegie Mellon University (BA, English and Creative Writing). Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, december, The Georgia Review, The New York Times, and more.
Day of Clean Brightness reminds us of all of our many commonalities-the true complexity within our relationships with our parents and children, the deeply felt love and grief after loss, suffering and the unforgiving nature of disease. Life is lived in "the body/with its humors, intimate oils, the skin's/wavering-bits of inessential/growth in delicate folds." How do we nurture bonds despite physical distance and the distance of time? For the author, it begins internally and manifests in poem after poem. She imagines the maternal grandmother she has never met going "out into the night, midwife...striding with a purpose," addresses the friend who is rumored to have died, "my colleague of cellos,/ stand partner, fellow cat lover, griever of mothers, mother/of daughters." When helpless before her mother's pain, she "clasp[s] hands, send[s] love/down [her] arm." Day of Clean Brightness is an act of will "to honor those we love because that's all we have left.
Jane Lin is a poet and a software engineer for an environmental consulting company. She studied under Denise Levertov at Stanford University and received her MFA from New York University’s Creative Writing Program where she was a New York Times Company Foundation Creative Writing Fellow. Her poem “Signs and Portents” was transformed into an art song by Emmy Award-winning composer Glen Roven for his composition “The Santa Fe Songs” for soprano and piano and appears on Talise Trevigne’s album At the Statue of Venus. Her honors include a Kundiman fellowship and scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. For many years she taught creative writing at UNM-Los Alamos and facilitated the Mesa Public Library Poetry Gathering series. Jane lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and three cats. She was born and raised on Long Island, NY.