Milkweed Editions (April 14, 2015)
Vessel is available in print and e-book!
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.
Vessel chosen as one of 12 Books to Savor by Oprah Magazine!
"In the tradition of Brooks, Hansberry, Danner, and Walker, Parneshia Jones, dutiful daughter and attentive poet-witness of the Black Chicago Renaissance (1930 - 1950) imagines and serves memory to us out of a teeming black skillet of life. There is something about black girls born and raised in Chicago, with a pencil behind her ear, that alters the alphabet from finite to infinite. Jones has written a sweet unforgettable first child." —Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split
"Our need to tell stories comes from an almost equal need for hard truth and Parneshia Jones’s gorgeous poetry collection, Vessel, is full of bold lyricism and elegant storytelling. Her poems force us to question our skin politics, our bent up genealogies, our gender binaries, and the ways these artifices stack up to weigh us down. Whether the imperative is coming from Mae West, Sylvia Plath, or Jones herself, these poems make clear that 'The screams behind the voice reveal her truth.' Right now, when it can be so difficult to be heard over all of the alarmingly vocal racism and sexism, we need Jones’s fearless poems to speak for us." —Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke
"From bra-shopping to haiku to a tribute to Josephine Baker, Parneshia Jones touches all poetic bases in this pioneering book. Whether the scene is somewhere in Mississippi or in today's Chicago, she gives us a panorama that only a young inspired black woman could create, not sociologically but poetically. That's as rare these days as visionary poetry itself, but Parneshia Jones does it. She puts the music back into language with an energy that sings off the page." —Samuel Hazo, Director of the International Poetry Forum and author of Sexes: The Marriage Dialogues