Vessel: Poems

Vessel: Poems

by Parneshia Jones


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The imagination of a girl, the retelling of family stories, and the unfolding of a rich and often painful history: Parneshia Jones’ debut collection explores the intersections of these elements of experience with refreshing candor and metaphorical purpose. A child of the South speaking in the rhythms of Chicago, Jones knits “a human quilt” with herself at the center. She relates everything from the awkward trip to Marshall Fields with her mother to buy her first bra to the late whiskey-infused nights of her father’s world. In the South, “lard sizzles a sermon from the stove”; in Chicago, we feast on an “opera of peppers and pimento.” Jones intertwines the stories of her own family with those of historical Black figures, including Marvin Gaye and Josephine Baker. Affectionate, dynamic, and uncommonly observant, these poems mine the richness of history to create a map of identity and influence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781571314673
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Parneshia Jones is a recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award. Her work has been anthologized in publications including, She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney. Jones is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and serves on the board of Cave Canem and Global Writes. She currently holds positions as Sales and Subsidiary Rights Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press. Vessel is her debut poetry collection. She lives in Evanston, IL.

Table of Contents

Girl 3


Definition 7

Naiad 8

"Fair Trade" 10

Legacy 13

Dream Catcher 14

O.W. Starling 16

For the Basement Parties at the YMCA 18

Bra Shopping 20


Congregation 27

French Kiss 29

Milk and Honey: Marvin Gaye 33

Two Lovers and a Pot of Collard Greens 36

Hearing Sylvia Plath's Voice, Circa 1962 38

Haikus to Younger Self: A Suite 40


Haiku for Bernice, Louisiana 45

The Understudy 46

Blink 48

Bitter Smell of Ashes 51

Georgia on My Mind 53

House of Cards 55

Legend of the Buffalo Poets 58

Litany: Chicago Summers 60


Still Memory 65

Habit: Salt 67

Chicago Style Italian Beef 71

Instinct 73

Ode to Bourbon: A Writer's Distillery 74

Torching the Stage: Mitchell L.H. Douglas and Donny Hathaway Meet 76

Tender 78


Auto-Correcting History 81

Shutter 83

Resurrection under the Moon 85

Diva Suite Black Venus: Josephine Baker 88

Nannarella: Anna Magnani 92

The Mother 94

Lesson Plan 95

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