In 2021 Henry L. Jones became Hendersonville’s First Poet Laureate. Jones continues to coordinate poetry events in Hendersonville and participate in such literary events in other cities. He’s dedicated to sharing poetry with many communities. Recently, his poetry was published in an anthology which made history.
Jones is one of 22 Black American Poet Laureates from across America in the book In the Fullness of the Word: An Anthology of Black American Poet Laureates. Other Tennessee laureates in the book include Rhea Carmen, Poet Laureate of Knoxville, and Cameron Mitchell, Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro.
The anthology contains biographies, head-shots and poetry of each contributor. Readers can embrace both their past and creative expression. The 202 paged publication was released April 14, 2023 and published by 5th Woman Books. The anthology is available on Amazon and where books are sold either in stock or by request. In the anthology one of Jones’ poems is a special tribute to Hendersonville.
That piece, In this Season, poetically describes some historical events which lead to Andrew Jackson founding the city. The poet visited Rock Castle and other historical sites to obtain inspiration. Here are some verses from the tribute poem:
“…layered leaves comforting the earth
I walked on them while carefully listening
to the sounds of crushed brittle notes cracking
while approaching the Rock Castle estate
I felt the presence of old souls near the house…”
“…in this season is this why ghosts keep returning?
stories told about this city with dry hushed lips
but still summoned by the land a sacred calling…”
He looks forward to sharing In this Season at a future Hendersonville event. He wants this poem to have a similar impact as other tribute poem, Echoes of Silence: Remembering 9/11. The commissioned poem was written for and read at the 9/11 Hendersonville’s First Responders on Sept. 10, 2021 at Historic Rock Castle’s Folk and Bluegrass Festival.
Already, Jones has shared the new tribute piece at several online and in person events. Listeners admired his imagery captured by his words. One listener envisioned the historical piece transformed into a short film, so he’s looking into that. Also, the Poet Laureate has another special plan for the tribute piece.
During a time of numerous wars, community division and social frustrations, Jones still believes in the healing power of poetry by sharing memories, inspiring dreams and giving hope.