On November 27, 2015, Patricia Spears Jones and I met in my apartment to discuss the poems in her recently published book, A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press). Later the interview was clipped, edited and slightly revised. These poems reflect upon Patricia’s life and the life of her contemporaries; they are lyrical, narrative, historical, sometimes prophetic, sometimes playful, but always insightful. –Barbara Henning
BH: “Wearing My Red Silk Chinese Jacket” is the first poem in your New and Selected and you wrote it in the 70’s.
PSJ: The red silk Chinese jacket was one of the most expensive things I bought early on. It is a pure silk embroidered jacket and I still have it. One day when I was wearing it as I was walking through Chinatown, these two Chinese ladies came up to me and started touching the jacket. They said, “Good, good.” In the poem I was trying to figure out what you bring to the city and what the city gives to you as I had come to the city from the South. The poem explores the ritual nature of Pentecostalism and how it remained with me. I realize now that this poem is about the great migration, but I came at the tail end of it. I came out of intellectual necessity and maybe a little bit of economic necessity, too; I mean I just had to get the fuck out of the south.