What is the price of a life, a stolen culture, a stolen heart? In formal and nontraditional poems, Reparations Now! asks for what is owed. Moving between voices and through intersecting histories, award-winning poet Ashley M. Jones offers perspectives both sharp and compassionate, exploring the difficulties of navigating our relationships with ourselves and others. From the murder of Mary Turner in 1918 to a case of infidelity to the oppressive nationalist movement of the present, Jones holds us accountable.
Praise for Reparations Now!
“In a book that is balancing history, trauma, rage, and joy as brilliantly as Reparations Now! is, there must be something beyond language that grips and holds a reader in place. For this, I am thankful for the generosity of this book, how the poems are shaped, how they challenge the eye as well as the ear, with rich payoffs at the end. I am thankful for the population of this book — how it bursts with ancestors and homages, places rendered so stunningly that they are present and touchable. What a massive undertaking, and what an achievement.” – Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Fortune For Your Disaster
“Our present day, as well as the days at our backs, are stunned by their own particular sorrow. There is much lamentation to disorder the air. There are legions of hushed black bodies. There is that numbing loneliness, the taciturn breaking of hearts in the midst of chaos. But there is also, always, James Brown’s unearthly squeal, his miraculous camelwalk. There is a mother’s blaze-warm voice on the line from home. There is God in a father’s hands, in Mahalia’s reverent wail, in a sunlit home. Here in these pages of unerring witness, the poet reckons with a seemingly ceaseless grief while acknowledging the light that keeps us facing forward–the fact that being beautiful and black does not require a revolution.” -Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art, Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
“Ashley M. Jones is a genius in how she wields, innovates, and wades through a bounty of poetic forms (sonnets, an aubade, a ghazal, a contrapuntal, anaphora, the subjunctive mode and so much more) with a sense of mastery, levity, and play. This collection is jam-packed with music, grace, and grit. I felt loved and seen by Reparations Now! The book is a personal mix CD in verse curated by Black bliss and brilliance. I kept dog-earring pages for prompts and poems I wanted to read again until I realized the whole collection was mangled by my enthusiastic appreciation and inspiration.” –Tiana Clark, author of I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood