FEBRUARY 2017: MADISON P. JONES IV
Tell us about yourself.
I am a graduate research fellow at the University of Florida, a second-year PhD student focusing on rhetoric and writing studies. My current research looks at the evolution of place writing as a rhetorical process and the changes it is currently undergoing in the digital age. I am editor of Kudzu House Quarterly, a journal of southern ecological writing. I am also a poet, and Reflections on the Dark Water, my second collection, was released last spring from Solomon & George. My poetry intersects place and memory in the American South. I’m thrilled to get to share with Hopper readers ecopoetic works of all genres set in diverse locales.
In M.P. Jones’ second collection of poetry, Reflections on the Dark Water, the poet pursues the black currents and refracted joys of his own psyche through the lush rural landscapes of the Deep South . . . Magnolia, kudzu, squabbling jaybirds, the stars over Alabama, and “the low pull of trainsong,” provide the backdrop against which Jones paints a portrait of the many selves contained within a single line of poetry . . . the poet constructs entire genealogies of silence and, in so doing, he strives for an ecological mindfulness centered as much on love of others as on love of the earth.
Dante Di Stefano, "Catastrophes of Sunlight"
What are some resources you recommend?
Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment publishes scholarly and creative work in ecocriticism.
TRACE at the University of Florida is a journal and research endeavor working at the intersection of ecology, posthumanism, and writing studies, with projects such as Augmented Reality Criticism (ARCs), Vectors, Sequentials, and MassMine (data mining).
Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments is home to some of the very best digital writing about the environment, and their content is freely available.
Southern Humanities Review features some of the best writing about and from the American South, and they frequently feature environmental poets.
What have you been reading?
I recently read Nichole Starosielski’s excellent work, The Undersea Network, which I can’t recommend enough. The book blends travel writing with historical scholarship, tracing the undersea cables which have supported telecommunication from telegraph systems to carrying nearly all digital transoceanic information today. We tend to think of the internet as a wireless "cloud," but Starosielski shows us just how material our networks really are, how they involve and depend on the people and bioregions through which they pass.
I’ve got Jim Harrison’s Dead Man’s Float at the top of the pile, followed immediately by W.S. Merwin’s Garden Time. Both writers were important to me when I started writing poetry. Their writing showed me how to encounter failure on the page, which is so necessary when you start writing. I return to their work whenever I need to jump-start my engines after a poetic lull.
It is I who have walked
through overgrown paspalum
in air so thick that
each breath filled me with dark dreams
of mossy water.
All the way up the path home . . .
Excerpt from "One-Man Renga in Late June, Lee County," by Madison P. Jones IV, Canary, summer 2015
See more from Madison on his website, http://ecopoiesis.com/.