Magic City Gospel by Ashley M. Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jones is, now, something more than a new (emerging) voice: she’s a growing force to be reckoned with in contemporary American poetry. It’s a “post-post-” world we’re trying to inhabit (post-post…Modern… Colonial… Atomic…? Digital…? Millennial…?); the poems in Jones’s first collection, “Magic City Gospel,” provide some vital guideposts and touchstones for us to make our way in this (new) New World. These poems are rooted firmly and unapologetically in the received forms of American history, 20th C. pop culture, and family lore. Sammy Davis Jr — Black Santa — Pearl Bailey — Sally Hemings’s lost son — …these (and more) are the saints and avatars of Jones’s personal mythography (her “good news,” as it were), and in poem after poem, Jones uses them to convey a depth of understanding — personal, political, poetic, spiritual — that is worthy of a text that will, no doubt, quickly become sacred to anyone seeking insight into the current rough-and-tumble of our times. The real good news, though — best news of all for those of us who love poetry — is that this talented young poet has only just begun to prophesy.