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2014 Conference on Poetry Faculty: Rodney Jones

Rodney Jones

Return to all Conference on Poetry faculty and fellows

Rodney Jones, born in Alabama and educated at the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has published widely in leading magazines, in The Oxford Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and in eight editions of The Best American Poetry.  His books include Imaginary Logic (2011); Salvation Blues:  100 Poems, 1985-2005, which won the Kingsley Tufts Prize and was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize; Elegy for the Southern Drawl (1999), a Pulitzer finalist; Things That Happen Once (1996), a  Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist; and Transparent Gestures (1989), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.  Other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Jean Stein Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  A professor and distinguished scholar emeritus at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he teaches in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.  Currently, he is the Mary Rogers Field Distinguished University Professor of Creative Writing at Depauw University.

Read a poem by Rodney here.

Teaching Statement:  I believe that teaching requires, more than anything, a receptiveness to a student’s intentions and gifts and an openness to the student’s character and style combined with a focus on craft as it serves an original mold.  Necessity is everything, and honoring necessity may sometimes lead to periods of writing ugly.  This does not disturb me,  in student work or my own.   Our service to fellow poets demands both respect and honesty in regards to process, not only finish.  Currently, I’m reading three recent poetry books with keen interest:  Ellen Bryant Voigt’s HEADWATERS; Frank Bidart’s METAPHYSICAL DOG, and David Ferry’s BEWILDERMENT.  In my own poetry, I’m moving away from first person and attempting to incorporate techniques more typically associated with fiction than poetry.  Who knows how this will work out?  Experimentation and form are sometimes quarrelsome friends, but they need each other, and it’s a feeling as much as a thinking kind of thing, this hope that we have to make poetry.

Date: December 23, 2013