A Brief History of the jubilat / Jones Poetry Series

The jubilat / Jones Reading Series is a community poetry reading series sponsored by the Friends of the Library and the literary journal jubilat since 2000.

When several years ago the Friends of the Jones Library contacted Dara Wier about starting up a poetry reading series at the Jones, she knew that Rob Casper, founding publisher of the prominent literary journal, jubilat, was looking for a place to relocate jubilat's stellar reading series (which had been housed in Somerville, MA). Dara got in touch with Rob and he was delighted to join with the Jones Library to establish a local, state, & regionally attuned series that would bring to Amherst a good variety of new and established poets to read in tandem with poets who live closer to home, here in Amherst and throughout the Valley, Western Massachusetts and 5 College area.

From the start the series has had excellent support from the Friends of the Library, from jubilat, from the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts & Action, from Amherst Books, from the Amherst Cultural Council and now from Flying Object (a community arts center non-profit in Hadley, MA).

It is also supported by Dara Wier (poet, UMass-Amherst MFA Program for poets and writers) and Emily Pettit, poet, new publisher of jubilat. Wier and Pettit are joined each year by two poets who serve as liaison with the Jones and who gain experiences by virtue of shepherding the practicalities of the series.

In 2012 jubilat / Jones was honored by being named one of the 10 best reading series in New England by LitBridge, a comprehensive guidebook resource for poets and writers. In the 2012-2013 season, the series welcomed a dynamic range of new poets: Blueberry Morningsnow, Mike Young, Zach Savich, John Colletti, Noelle Kocot, Emily Toder, Lily Ladewig, Lesle Lewis, Ben Kopel, Laurie Saurborn Young, and Amanda Nadelberg.

Every jubilat / Jones poet travels to Amherst with the help of a modest $200 honorarium, which the series is able to offer through the generosity of the Friends of the Library and Amherst Cultural Council. This amount sometimes meets but rarely exceeds their expenses — it is a gesture acknowledging jubilat / Jones's firm belief in the tangible value of art to our community. These readers visit us and spread their ideas, their enthusiasm and love for art, and they enrich the creative space in which we all live. Their willingness to travel from far and wide (many poets whose regular honoraria often exceeds $1000 to $5000) is a remarkable gesture of kindness and good will back toward the series. The beauty of the venue and the history of jubilat / Jones continues to allow us to host stellar up-and-coming poets alongside nationally established ones.

This past season the series has been proud to continuously grow its excellent reputation with these 11 readers — together they represent the authors of critically acclaimed collections, national prize winners, esteemed editors, publishers, teachers, and central figures in the state of contemporary poetry. Amherst and all of New England has long been a literary destination, and inspiration to countless poets and artists. The Jones Library in partnership with jubilat are committed to highlighting luminaries here and now and to come. A further selection of celebrated poets to visit jubilat / Jones include: Afaa Michael Weaver, Anne Lauterbach, Arda Collins, James Tate, Mary Jo Salter, Major Jackson, Dean Young, Ellen Watson, James Haug, Daniel Hall, Angselm Berrigan, Matthea Harvey, Ben Lerner, Dan Chiasson, Elizabeth Willis, Henri Cole, Kimiko Hahn, Timothy Donnelley, Evie Shockley, Kevin Gonzales

By now, the series has a track-record of amazing variety and literary energies. In 2012-2013, we continued to see a steady stream of today's most exciting poets walking up the Jones Library's stairs for Sunday afternoon sessions of poetry and conversation. Our audiences filled the beautiful Jones Library room with upwards of 50 or so participants, bringing together students, community members, teachers, and people of all ages and affiliations. We look forward to continuing to be inspired by these poets and the warmth of their reception in many more upcoming years of jubilat / Jones.

September 2013