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Magic City Gospel

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Magic City Gospel is a love song to Birmingham, the Magic City of the South. In traditional forms and free verse poems, 2015 Rona Jaffe Writer's Award-winner Ashley M. Jones takes readers on a historical, geographical, cultural, and personal journey through her life and the life of her home state.
Paperback, 57 pages
Published January 1st 2017 by Hub City Press (first published December 1st 2016)
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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 ·  99 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow this book is beautiful. All of it, everylittlebit. Like how the first poem is about Sam Cooke & fear. I esp. love the endings of these poems. "your accent heavy as oil, it sounds like a proverb—clean tomato, sovereign God." Poems about Alabama (which I love bc my fam is from Alabama) & blackness & black women & black boys & God & food & the South. Oh how I love poetry and this book was a perfect and gorgeous reminder of why & why & why.
Anthony Vacca
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it

pronoun \nem\

1. and them, especially in the American South

You finally get the courage to use the word when you’re sixteen. When you finally wear a real bra and can count on your hips to fit into a skirt the right way. Your tongue is a bit looser these days—you even get the jokes when you’re talking with your mom and all the women in her family. When grandmother squeals out a dig at someone you don’t know, you find something slippery in it and laugh, finally, with the throat of a woman.
Alice Lippart
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2017
A beautifully written collection about race, home and Southern culture and history.
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book left me in awe. In *Magic City Gospel,* Jones takes on the work of poet, historian, educator, activist, and disciple, mastering them all from cover to cover. She interweaves public and personal histories to cast a transformative spotlight on Birmingham, Southern culture, and even readers' own self-reflection. Rich, candid, and alive, *Magic City Gospel* led me to a new love for poetry and inspired me once again to "keep shining in this weary world."
Clara Biesel
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're not sure you like poetry, but want to try and see, this book of love for Birmingham Alabama may be just what you want. Published just this year, Ashley M. Jones writes about what it feels like (and smells like, and sounds like, and tastes like) to grow up as a black girl in AL, with a steady eye on realism, and an eye glowing with hope. It's beautiful, and a pleasure to read.
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A stunning prayer of a book. Jones writes: "Nothing good in life comes without stirring--/the promise of butter, the salty whirring/of pressure in a pot." And these poems stir the pot of history and memory to create a word painting of great beauty and power.
Rachel Wiegers
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of listening to her read some of her poems when she came to visit my class at FIU. I love her inspiration. My favorite poem from this collection is "Coming of Age".
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I complain a lot about modern free verse and then a collection like this comes and reminds me that generalizations are false and some people come and Rumplestiltskin the heck out of some straw.

Beautiful, forceful, evocative. I read this in one sitting in a Mobile, Alabama, coffee shop and sometimes found myself rereading poems and mouthing them because they filled me with the kind of emotions you can't hurry through.

"Rammer Jammer," "God Speaks To Alabama," "Viewing A KKK Uniform at the Civil
Courtney LeBlanc
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received Magic City Gospel as a Goodreads Giveaway and I'm so glad I did, this book of poetry is lovely. Tackling race, the south, racism, literacy, slavery, and a little of everything in between.

Jones paints pictures with precision and punch. From "(I'm Blue) The Gong Gong Song, or America the Beautiful": Those legs - shotguns waiting to be loaded up with bullet beats... Anna Mae is much softer than she / looks from far away. Easier to press a thumb, a fist, into.

From "The First Time I Heard
Savanny Savath
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
AMAZING. Especially perfect for lovers of poetry and Southern literature and culture. Ashley Jones's style is smooth like the Alabama heat and thick gravy she describes in her poems. Her poems are simple in that anyone can read them, but the content and context are from simple. Jones writes about racial history in Alabama by revealing the immense history within an object or a person, no matter how small or seemingly unknown. Great for a quick read but the poems stick with you long after.
Rojitas Oliva
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
i’ve been living n farming in rural alabama for bout 1/2 a year and here now a poem about what the dirt tastes like in greensboro and about cooking grits and about how the heat will show you who you are and this is all her life & mind & vivid which is all to say maybe all art is voyeurism but then also, at least right now, so is my life. sometimes surreal and sometimes sharp and funny and always inheriting her world
John Hammontree
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This beautiful book of poetry captures the heart and soul of Birmingham and Alabama.
Gloria Brooks
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gifted-books
A nice little book of poems, full of cultural and her personal journey through her life in Birmingham.
T.J. Beitelman
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jones is, now, something more than a new (emerging) voice: she's a growing force to be reckoned with in contemporary American poetry. It's a "post-post-" world we're trying to inhabit (post-post...Modern... Colonial... Atomic...? Digital...? Millennial...?); the poems in Jones's first collection, "Magic City Gospel," provide some vital guideposts and touchstones for us to make our way in this (new) New World. These poems are rooted firmly and unapologetically in the received forms of American ...more
Marion Carnegie Library
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Magic City Gospel is a book of poetry that beautifully articulates growing up in the south and highlights the racial divide still present in today's society. It is interesting that words can have so many meanings. Author Ashley M. Jones was able to pour her heart out on to the paper. Her poems are moving and she shows you what is in her heart. It was a very compelling read and I glad I picked it up.
Taylor Stewart
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, it was transformative. I did not consider myself a huge lover of poetry but I read this book after seeing Ashley's lecture series at UAB. It's the first collection of poetry I have read cover to cover and I have fallen completely in love with it. I can't wait to read other works written by Ashley in the future!!
Kerry Brackett
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome poetry collection dedicated to the love of Birmingham, AL. Ashley has an amazing way of bringing the imagery before your eyes in a subtle way. I know why this book has received many great reviews.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. At times I would pause and take pictures of certain poems on my phone so that I could carry them with me everywhere.
Carole B
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"and what is a word but a map?"
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I loved Sojourner Truth Speaks to her daughter, 1843
Elegy: for Amiri Baraka
Cristina Castor
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
"You want to know the secret to birthing on your feet?
Just squat real low, and when you feel it,
honey, let the tide flow." -Sojourner Truth Speaks To Her Daughter, 1843
Michelle Adamo #emptynestreader
A beautiful anthology, personal & cultural, by the poetess Ashley M. Jones reflecting her love for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, known as "The Magic City". An inspiring and hopeful collection.
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