By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) held a ceremony on Wednesday to present a commendation to the incoming Alabama Poet Laureate Ashley M. Jones. The Alabama Writers Cooperative nominates and selects the state’s Poet Laureate, who serves a four-year term.

Ivey announced on social media, “We just held a special ceremony to welcome Ashley Jones as Alabama’s new Poet Laureate! She will serve a four-year term. She makes history as the state’s youngest-ever and first black Poet Laureate. We are proud to celebrate her many accomplishments today. @AL_Writers #alpolitics”

“When I was a little girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, I made a plan for my life as a poet, and part of that plan--a big, big dream--was to serve as Alabama State Poet Laureate,” said Jones in a statement. “I'm so honored to serve my home state as an ambassador, advocate, and as a lover of poetry and all the people who write it, read it, and find new magic from it in this life. I have dedicated my life so far to making poetry accessible to all, to celebrating everyone's voice, and working to eliminate gatekeeping in our industry. I'm so excited to spend the next four years helping to make Alabama poets and poetry radiate here at home and beyond.”

When Birmingham native Jones begins her term in January 2022, she will become Alabama’s youngest Poet Laureate, as well as the first African American to hold the position.

In addition to Jones, the Governor was joined in the Old House Chambers by the current Alabama Poet Laureate Jennifer Horne, Alabama Writers Cooperative President T.J. Beitelman, and members of the selection committee.

“I loved being at the governor's commissioning of our new poet laureate, Ashley M. Jones, at the state capitol today,” said Horne on social media. “She's already amazing and is going to be even more so as our state's new "public face" for poetry. For the Mid-Week Poetry Break, I'm posting a video of her reading her poem "She Is Beauty, She Is Grace." You can learn more about Ashley and her work at”

Ashley M. Jones holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University. She is the author of Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press 2017),  dark / / thing (Pleiades Press 2019), and REPARATIONS NOW! (Hub City Press 2021).

Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. She was also a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020.

Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, POETRY, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She is the co-director of PEN Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival. She teaches in the Creative Writing Department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts. She also is part of the Core Faculty of the Converse University Low Residency MFA Program. She recently served as a guest editor for Poetry Magazine.

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(Original reporting by ABC 33/40 News contributed to this report.)