dark // thing is a multi-faceted work that explores the darkness/otherness by which the world sees Black people. Ashley M. Jones stares directly into the face of the racism that allows people to be seen as dark things, as objects that can be killed/enslaved/oppressed/devalued. This work, full as it is of slashes of all kinds, ultimately separates darkness from thingness, affirming and celebrating humanity.
Praise for dark // thing:
“dark / / thingexplores the operating costs incurred when blackness—black hair, black bottom, black diction and excellence—are perceived, but not uniquely seen. Ashley Jones has penned towns like Birmingham, Alabama and Flint, Michigan; penned America through the lens of Harriet Tubman, Dwayne Wayne, and the Emancipation Proclamation in a pitch tuned for everyone, whether you’re jonseing for sonnets, sestinas, or mathematical proofs. It is imperative that you read these poems, teach these poems, breathe deep this gift of a book.” – Marcus Wicker
From “Song of My Muhammad:” “I know I have the best of time and space in my two black fists,” to “The book of Tubman:” “And God made a railroad out of dirt and sweat, made a train out of a woman, / And god made her hair a burning bush, / And God made her so holy even He called her Moses.” This delicate pavane surrounds us with notes that sing us home to our past and present. Sister Ashley’s words continue us on the holy meditation begun in the 1960s about what it means to be human, and I say amen. Awoman. Amen. Awoman. Amen. A womannnnnnnnnnnn. —Sonia Sanchez
If I could pick only one of this book’s many virtues to praise it would be the delightful abundance it contains— abundance of language, of testimony, of sorrow and joy. Luckily I am under no such constraint, so I can also celebrate Ashley Jones’ formal dexterity as a poet, her passionate intelligence, her restless curiosity, and most of all her fierce commitment to bringing “dark things” into the light. —Campbell McGrath
Ashley M. Jones’ astonishing second collection dark // thing recounts a haunting girlhood that breaks the whole dark world open to show us where it shines brightest. Jones asks of black and brown resistance in a racist society: I wonder, does this make us more free? / You, the empty road, your blackness / making room for itself here, taking up space, / willing us to follow or get out of the way. This love song to black and brown girls, to communities that both empower and toss us into the mud, shows that even love is double-edged, can give us wings black as a black eagle’s, can make us fly—yet even as we fly, the world can still swallow us whole. —Jennifer Ghivan