“Legacy,” from VESSEL by Parneshia Jones

In honor of National Poetry Month, Northwestern University Press would like to share a poem written by our director and published poet, Parneshia Jones! Parneshia’s collection, Vessel: Poems (Milkweed Editions), is a winner of the Midwest Book Award and was featured as one of “12 Books to Savor” by O, The Oprah Magazine.

LEGACY

for Evanston


We came with histories,
planted centennial stories along freshwater coasts.

An earthly heaven of emerald lagoons
and godly oaks shadow the chiseled
trails of our arrival.
We are the northern folktales.

Copper-back ancestors, with cotton-tipped,
woodcutter hands— 
the heirlooms that built this landscape of jubilant 
churches and miniature châteaus.
A harvest of migrating hearts
tell our way back when.
We are porch stories, buttermilk aprons,
lovers of Sundays and sailboats.
Land of dew-winged cardinals with chandelier 
forests preserves our pioneers and preachers.
We are the long grass and anxious wind, 
the generations, speaking softly, between 
the lines of history.


From Vessel by Parneshia Jones (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Parneshia Jones. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.

Parneshia Jones is the author of Vessel: Poems (Milkweed Editions), winner of the Midwest Book Award and featured as one of “12 Books to Savor” by O, The Oprah Magazine. Jones has been honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award. Named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine, her work has appeared in anthologies including, She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. Jones has been featured on PBS Newshour, the Academy of American Poets, and espnW.

She is the Director of Northwestern University Press. Her acquisitions have garnered some of the highest literary honors, including the National Book Award, Kingsley Tufts, Pulitzer Prize finalists, Hurston Wright Legacy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, L.A. Times Book Award, and others.