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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

An Absence I Know I Won't Reclaim

Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Published January 22, 2009


Rodney Jones, 2009.

Four poems of place-bound memory highlight Rodney Jones's relationship to his hometown of Falkville, Alabama.  His teenage years as a football player and rock-and-roller are a starting point from which to measure the distance that time and experience have created between himself and the region in which he grew up.

"An Absence I Know I Won't Reclaim" is part of the Poets in Place series, a Research Collaboration in the Humanities initiative funded through Emory University’s Presidential Woodruff Fund, in collaboration with the Office of the Provost. Series producers are Natasha Trethewey and Allen Tullos.


Rodney Jones reads the poem "Failed Memory Exercise." Poem text.
Rodney Jones reads the poem "I Find Joy In the Cemetery Trees." Poem text.
Rodney Jones reads the poem "Homage To Mississippi John Hurt." Poem text.
Rodney Jones reads the poem "Sweep." Poem text.


In this interview at the 2009 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Chicago, Illinois, Rodney Jones talks with Natasha Trethewey about the subjects of their poetry. The conversation includes: how writers find ways to get beyond their own experiences; psychological exile from regional homeland; Jones's family history; discussion of "Elegy for the Southern Drawl;" and realism.)

About Rodney Jones

Rodney Jones won the 2007 Kingsley Tufts Prize and was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize for his book Salvation Blues: 100 Poems, 1985-2005. His eight other books include Elegy for the Southern Drawl a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, and Transparent Gestures , which won the 1990 National Book Critics Circle Award. Honors include the Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Hanes Prize, the Harper Lee Award, and the Jean Stein Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Jones is a professor and distinguished scholar at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In 2009, he will be inducted into the Southern Fellowship of Writers.

Cover Image Attribution:

Railroad Tracks, Falkville, Alabama, September 2018. Photography by Bryan Stansbery. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0.