Ashley M. Jones MFA ’17 is the first person of color and youngest individual to be named poet laureate of Alabama, a position created in 1931.
A degree from FIU’s nationally renowned Creative Writing Program — where she studied with the likes of MacArthur Foundation “genius” Campbell McGrath — helped set her up to achieve the longed-for honor of representing her home state, albeit years sooner than she ever expected.
A writer since the age of 7, Jones remembers the first time she understood the power of verse: reciting to classmates a poem about the indefatigable Harriet Tubman. She teaches at the high school and college levels, runs a nonprofit that produces a literary festival and has published three poetry collections. Much of her writing focuses on social issues as she actively challenges the narrative that the South is to blame for the sins of the nation.
“There are a couple things I hope people get from my position as poet laureate. I hope people understand that all of us can be anything. Whatever they dream of doing, they can do it.”
Ashley M. Jones reads her poem, "It is Entirely Possible for a Black Girl to be Loved"