As poetry month is coming to an end, but not our love for poetry; we’d like to invite you to meet Alex Jones, another of Detroit’s favorite poets!
Alex Jones holds a B.A. in English from the University of Detroit Mercy, where he won the first place prize in the Dudley Randall Poetry Contest for 2010. He went with a group of students to present their poems at the annual symposium of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Additionally, he has been featured at various open mics around the city of Detroit, including the now-defunct Byte This Poetry Series and the Broadside Press Poets’ Theater. His poems have appeared in Detroit’s *Metro Times* newspaper as well as in *[sic]*, the student literary journal at UDM.
5 Questions with Alex…
What is it like being a poet in Detroit?
Well… let’s break that question down a bit. First: What’s it like being a poet? Being a poet means that you observe. You feel. You take in
everything, distill it to its essence, and then fire it back at people. At least, that’s my take. Detroit is a place that is like a mountain or a
cliffside. It can be absolutely beautiful, but it’s certainly not without its rough edges and pitfalls that can do quite a bit of damage to you if
you’re not careful. It has strong light and dark sides. Being a poet in Detroit, then, means that you’re never without inspiration for too long, I
guess. This is an incredible, unique place. If there isn’t something that can agitate your heart and move your pen here, I’d start checking your
Do you remember the first time that you read one of your poems? If so, what was that like?
I don’t know. I remember the first time I didn’t read one of my poems. It was 6th grade and we had to write a poem for class and the teacher wanted us to read them in front of the class. Well, I wrote mine about a girl that I really liked and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by reading it in front of the class because I was pretty sure she didn’t like me back. I asked him if I could get away with not reading it and he said sure. If I had to guess, the first time I read one of my own poems aloud would have been in my creative writing class freshman year of college. But it must not have left much of an impression if I don’t recall it clearly.
If you could have lunch with any poet in the world dear or alive, who would it be?
Shakespeare. I don’t know how much people realize this, but he added tons of words to the language that just completely didn’t exist before. I want to see what it took to do that. I want to see what kind of man could do that. That sort of fiercely creative spirit might be something that we
should all strive toward. Not that we need to make more words, I mean, but that we should all strive to create something that has a lasting impact. It’d be nice to get tips from the master on that.
What is your favorite type of poetry?
My favorite type of poetry is the poetry that makes you feel something intensely, whether it’s overwhelming unease from a poem that does an
incredible job of painting a picture, a narrative poem that makes me want to march in the streets, or a poem that manages to almost make me pee myself from laughing so hard. As long as it makes me feel something strongly, I like it. Ideally, it’d be well-crafted in addition to being
What inspires you to write poetry?
There’s a line from the Dudley Randall poem “A Poet is Not a Jukebox” that pretty much summarizes it for me. It’s “A poet writes about what he feels, what agitates his heart and sets his pen in motion.” It explains why some days, even though I don’t want to think about certain old relationships anymore, all I can do is scribble about them. Or why no matter how much I try to temper my temper when it comes to certain things, all I can write is anger. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t try to corral their writing when it comes time to refine or edit, though. But those moments where you just have to pick up a pen and put it to paper or else you won’t be able to get to sleep? That’s what the quote is for me. That’s usually what gets me writing.