In his newest poetry collection, Losing the Dog, Madison Jones continues to weave a tapestry of loss connecting family tragedies, mental illness, and environmental destruction in the American South. These poems mourn lost places, animals, and people, while locating a voice in spaces of change. Hounded by loss, Jones seeks redemption in the natural world through environmental elegy. These poems bear witness to the past without succumbing to pastoral nostalgia, with memories of growing up in Alabama and Florida deeply rooting the poems to the loss of rural and wild places. Through ecopoetry, the speaker works to make sense of the traumatic locations of destruction and loss as well as the often fraught relationships people form with the nonhuman world. By returning to the haunted spaces of memory, these poems seek to recover and reimagine the past in order to survive.
Praise for Losing the Dog
“It doesn't take long to discover that, beneath the stately and ordered surface of these poems, a wild energy sizzles. Readers of these delightfully surprising lines will, like the “blue knuckled” sparrows Jones writes about, walk a kind of poetic high wire, “a hundred thousand volts / coursing like fire” through our hands. Jones writes wonderfully about the natural world, about place and loss, but his poems, despite their loving specificity, never stop tallying ‘the weights of distant elsewheres.’ A terrific collection.”
Author of lore, Dismal Rock, and Ultima Thule
This is a book of poetry located between deep connection and its stark opposite, recognizing the fact that essential human and cultural values once held by one generation have been passed to the next in slipshod fashion at best, or not at all. The voice of these poems is one eager to inherit knowledge yet aware that the reliable means of transmission has been broken. Along the way many other things have broken, like the human bond with Nature and the ties to the knowledge-giving sites where we meet Nature. What are we to do? is the implicit question behind many of the poems in this wholly honest book. We find ourselves in a Beckett-flavored pickle of not knowing how to go on, yet nevertheless having to go on. Art and poetry may not provide the means for going forward, but they remind us we have no alternative. This book addresses head-on that disquieting dilemma.
Author of The Common Man, One Man’s Dark, and Railsplitter among others
"The poems in Madison Jones’s intimate new collection, Losing the Dog, examine with a builder’s precision how we can responsibly interact with the world as we find it, worn down, threadbare as the second-hand radials in “Used Tires,” but irrepressibly beautiful and inspiring despite the depletions of the Anthropocene. I love the granular specificity of these poems, with their radio station call numbers and favorite songs playing as in “Deep Fade,” and knowing the point near the state line when the signal will drop. These poems maintain connection to Yeats’s “deep-rooted things,” care and attachment to places that are always changing, and to people we love through their struggles and triumphs. A reader will come to know and care for the plants and animals brought to life in “Nocturne,” “Bobcats,” and “Aubade with Dog,” and be reminded of the value of loving even what we cannot understand. Madison Jones has constructed a collection of poems that looks upon our times with open eyes and an open heart."
Author of Merciful Days and Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine
To read Madison Jones’s Losing the Dog is to “set out on the dark road out of town,” to follow a lost trail into the wilds of imagination and into the weedy fields of daily life. Jones is a forest bather by nature, and his keen eye, calm demeanor, and deep concentration have earned him an intimate understanding of the little things. When he writes “I knew a field named Eurydice,” I am delighted, and when he reports finding an abandoned backhoe, a carcass floating downstream, or a brooding nuclear power plant in this less than idyllic world, I believe him and will gladly come along.
—William D. Waltz
Author of Zoo Music and Adventures in the Lost Interiors of America
Praise for Madison Jones’ Previous Work
“Reflections on the Dark Water concerns itself with memory and myth, how the bridge between the two-how the line where they intersect-is the irrevocable location of history. M.P. Jones crosses that bridge, that line over and again in poems that view the past in order to make sense of the present. This is a book that wants to separate ‘truth from chaff.’”
Author of The Tradition, The New Testament, and Please
“Jones had me at the table of contents. Hayden Carruth at a liquor store, Emily Dickinson, and Jim Morrison? Yes, please. As I moved through Reflections on the Dark Water, I fell in love with so much more. In the book's first poem, "The Bicycle," Jones tells us there is "nothing to displace the topography of ruin," save for movement or progress of some kind-hurrying feet or a spinning wheel. In his lyrical narratives, everything moves, even in the tiniest of shifts between sound and the absence of sound, the experience of loss and our memories of it, recovery and the realization that we cannot recover. In every poem, Jones deftly controls the movement of his language, often utilizing such haunting repetition you can't help but linger over each image. Reflections on the Dark Water is often dark; but, look carefully at what Jones wants you to see: there is beauty in our hope for ourselves and our world. Sometimes, as Jones describes, “is it hidden in plain sight.’”
Author of When Rap Spoke Straight to God and The Small Blades Hurt
Madison Jones is an assistant professor in the departments of Writing & Rhetoric and Natural Resources Science at the University of Rode Island. He received his Ph.D. in Writing Studies from the University of Florida in May 2020. His previous poetry collection is Reflections on the Dark Water (Solomon & George, 2016). His poems have appeared in journals such as North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Greensboro Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Shenandoah and in anthologies including Mountains Piled upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene. He was the recipient of the Robert Mount, Jr. College Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a Literary Award from the F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, among other awards. He regularly reviews poetry collections and has written for Kenyon Review Online, Birmingham Poetry Review, storySouth, The Journal, and elsewhere. He was awarded the 2022 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship. In June 2020, he served as writer-in-residence at Wolfe Cottage, as part of an award from the Fairhope Center for Writing Arts. To learn more about his work, visit his website madisonpjones.com
, or follow him on Twitter @poetrhetor.