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Patricia Spears Jones Awarded Lifetime Achievement

Poet and playwright Patricia Spears Jones, a native of Forrest City, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Porter Fund, an organization supporting the literary arts in Arkansas.


Spears Jones will be recognized at an award ceremony on May 16.


The Porter Fund’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given out every five years to an Arkansas writer with a substantial and recognized body of work. Spears Jones is the fifth Arkansas writer to receive the Lifetime Achievement honor following Donald Harington in 2004, Miller Williams in 2009, Charles Portis in 2014 and Jo McDougall in 2019. The Lifetime Achievement Award comes with prize money of $5,000.


“I am glad to have my work as a poet, playwright, anthologist, and cultural activist appreciated in my home state by The Porter Fund,” says Spears Jones. “What a gift to the state to have this focus on the literature of living writers especially when so much about reading, writing, and thinking is under assault by those who do not want us to read, write or think for ourselves.”


Spears Jones is poet, playwright, anthologist, educator, and cultural activist who migrated from Forrest City, Arkansas to New York City in the 1970s.  She is now the New York State Poet  with the Walt Whitman Citation Merit for Poetry (23-25) and the winner of the prestigious 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. She is author of The Beloved Community (Copper Canyon, 2023, A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015)  and three other collections. Her work is anthologized in This Is The Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poetry, American Wildflowers: A Literary Field Guide, African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song (Library of America 233), Best American Poetry, 2023 and BAX: Best American Experimental Writing, 2016. Poems published in The New Yorker, The Brooklyn Rail; The Ocean State Review, Ms. Muse, CUTTHROAT: A Journal of the Arts, Plume, Tribes, and The Paterson Review. Nonfiction prose in BOMB, The Poetry Project Newsletter, The Black Scholar, and Killens Review of Arts and Letters and online journals: www.homeslice and Mabou Mines commissioned and produced “Mother” and Song For New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting. She was the first person of color to co-curate the Wednesday Night Series for St. Mark’s Poetry Project in the 1980s and continues to do literary curating. She organizes the American Poets Congress, serves on the Board of Directors for The Poetry Project, and is a Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Black Earth Institute.


The Porter Fund was founded in 1984 by novelist Jack Butler and novelist and lawyer Phil McMath to honor Dr. Ben Kimpel. Kimpel was noted professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. The Porter Fund prize is named in honor of Kimpel’s mother, Gladys Crane Kimpel Porter. The annual prize of $2,000 is given to an Arkansas writer of merit and has been awarded to over 30 poets, novelists, non-fiction writers and playwrights.


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